‘Time to plan for Irish Unity’ – Gerry Adams

Speaking in Washington Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD called on: “All parties which see the value of Irish Unity to act together.”

Gerry Adams said:gerry-adams

“The academic paper by Professor Kurt Huebner of Vancouver University, entitled, ‘Modeling Irish Unification’, which was published in November 2015 is an important contribution to the debate about Irish unity. The author concluded that political and economic unification would likely result in a sizable boost in economic outcomes and incomes in the North and a smaller boost in the South

In November 2016 Sinn Féin launched ‘Towards a United Ireland’. It is a detailed discussion paper setting out the arguments for a United Ireland. It addresses the impact on the economy, on inward investment, on exports, on the health service, on the border region and much more.

It takes head on and demolishes the argument that the people of the North and South cannot afford a United Ireland.

The cause of uniting Ireland is not the property of any one grouping or party. That has always been Sinn Féin’s consistent position. I therefore welcome Fianna Fáil’s entry into the discussion. It will be interesting to read the detail of whatever paper Fianna Fáil publishes. They should also engage with campaigning in communities and political actions and cooperation within the Oireachtas.

For Sinn Féin’s part we are currently exploring the possibility of establishing a Dáil Committee on Irish Unity, that would bring forward proposals for what a United Ireland might look like, how we get there and how the Irish State needs to plan for reunification across all areas of the economy and society.

To inform that discussion we are also working on a follow-up paper to our ‘Towards a United Ireland’ discussion document. It is a white paper-type document that lays out the benefits and outworkings of Unity across a range of areas, including enterprise, health, education, agriculture, energy, infrastructure and taxation on a short/medium and long-term basis.

It is expected that the British government will trigger Article 50 shortly to commence the negotiations on Brexit. This, the Assembly election results, which saw the Unionist parties lose their Assembly majority; and the announcement by the Scottish First Minister of a second Independence referendum, are the context for the current discussions on a United Ireland.

It is crucial that Irish-America is fully aware of the hazard that a hard Brexit poses for the island of Ireland.  The reality is that Brexit is bad for the island as a whole. It runs contrary to the political, economic and social interests and aspirations of the Irish people. In the Brexit referendum vote in the North last June Brexit was rejected. This was repeated in the recent Assembly election, which saw a majority of MLAs opposed to Brexit elected.

The people of the six counties have not consented to being dragged out of the European Union. For the British government to ignore this fact flies in the face of the progress that been made in the North since the start of the peace process and the signing of the Good Friday.

On Monday, Michelle O’Neill warned that Brexit will significantly undermine the Good Friday Agreement and lead to the imposition of a hard border. She argued that all of this increases the urgency for a referendum on Irish unity.

The Good Friday Agreement obliges the Irish and British governments to legislate for unity if that is the choice of the people north and south. These changing times present real challenges and real opportunities. We need to continue to strategise, organise, and persuade for Irish Unity. We need to plan for a United Ireland. There is no short cut. Irish America has a real and crucial role in this transition.

Reunification cannot be simply a case of adding the north to the south. It must be an agreed Ireland – in which unionists can feel comfortable and secure.

It is about creating a new Ireland – in which the rights of citizens are upheld by the state. A new Ireland built on the principles of equality and inclusion. A new Ireland with a new constitution and Bill of Rights.

A new Ireland with symbols and emblems to reflect a fair and inclusive society, that includes the safeguarding of British Citizenship and recognition of the Unionist Identity.

This cannot be a rhetorical debate. All parties that see the value of reunification and hold to the ideal of unity must act together.

There is an onus on the Irish government to plan for unity. To become a persuader for unity. To build the maximum agreement and to secure and win a referendum on unity.

The days of leaving the debate on a united Ireland for another time are over. History has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to advance this entirely legitimate and logical objective. Let’s not waste it.”