Brexit has exposed the failure of partition and the strategic opportunity that now exists to end it must be seized, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
Speaking at a major event in Derry’s Guildhall to mark the 100th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil, the party Vice President called for the transition to Irish unity to begin.
“Brexit challenges all of the old assumptions about the previous constitutional, political and economic status quo in the north and south of Ireland,” Michelle O’Neill commented.
“It has exposed the undemocratic nature and failure of partition in Ireland which created an artificial future which has and will remain contested.
“The fulcrum of the Brexit crisis is the border in Ireland.
“There is a growing sense that circumstances are rapidly changing which will inevitably lead to the final break-up of the constitutional structures of the United Kingdom which Theresa May and the DUP say they are committed to preserving.”
Michelle O’Neill said the Sinn Féin leadership had made it clear to British Prime Minister Theresa May in the event of a no-deal crash-out Brexit that it is absolutely incumbent on the British government to put the constitutional future to the people here through a unity referendum.
Michelle O’Neill said, “The Sinn Féin leadership has met with the British Prime Minister and the British Secretary of State over the past few months.
“We have made it clear that in the case of a Brexit crash-out and no-deal scenario that it is absolutely incumbent on them to put the constitutional future to the people here through a unity referendum.
“Their planned imposition of Brexit in Ireland once again demonstrates the failure of partition, and exposes further the gaping democratic deficit inherent in a partitioned Ireland.
“People from across this society, and even those of a British identity, are questioning what will be the merits, benefits of staying within the union after Brexit.
“The EU has said in the event of reunification the whole of Ireland will automatically be subsumed back into the EU.
“So the debate on our constitutional future is as much about our relationship with Europe as it is about Ireland itself.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides a peaceful democratic pathway to Irish Unity.
“There will be no unilateral rewriting of the Agreement by Theresa May, or anyone else, because it is an international Treaty lodged at the UN and had the overwhelming support of the majority of people who live on this island and who voted in support of it 20 years ago.
“The issue of Irish Unity has taken on a new dynamic because of Brexit.
“Beyond Brexit demographics are changing and so too is the political landscape.
“This cannot be ignored. A unity referendum will be held.
“The political momentum on change is moving in that direction.
“The Good Friday Agreement gives people the opportunity and choice to decide our future together.
“Now on the centenary anniversary of the First Dáil there is an onus on the Irish government to plan for unity. To become a persuader for unity. To build the maximum agreement and for all progressive nationalists and republicans to secure and win a referendum on unity.” ENDS/CRÍOCH