Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty calls for Irish unity campaign to be stepped up

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty calls for Irish unity campaign to be stepped up
The Sinn Féin TD made the call at an online National Hunger Strike Commemoration. Picture: PA

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has called for the campaign for a united Ireland to be stepped up.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is not in favour of a border poll for a united Ireland, saying  last month that it would be “divisive”.

Mr Martin said his focus is on the new “Shared Island” unit that will seek to build stronger relationships between the Irish Government and the Stormont Executive.

Mr Doherty has said the time is right to prepare for Irish unity and called on the Irish government to actively get involved in the campaign to secure and win an Irish unity referendum.

Delivering the main address at the National Hunger Strike Commemoration, which was held online this year, Mr Doherty said: “Now is the time to step up the campaign for Irish unity.”

He said the 10 men who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1981, as well as republicans who died on hunger strike in previous years, “continue to be held in the highest esteem by republicans everywhere”.

“The Good Friday Agreement, voted for by the people, contains provision for a referendum on Irish unity. Securing that referendum should now be the shared goal of everyone who supports the reunification of this island and its people.

The discussion on Irish unity is already well under way across the island. Republicans and others who support unity are talking about what Irish unity will look like and how to secure it.

“Even those currently opposed to reunification are talking about it and considering what their place in a united Ireland would be.

“So it simply doesn’t make any sense for those who claim that the time is not right.”

“The conversation has begun. There is a role for everyone in that discussion and I’m calling on as many people as possible to get involved.

“In particular, the Irish government has a key role to play. As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish government has a responsibility to ensure its full implementation.

“We need to see this new Irish government actively planning for unity. Warm words won’t secure or win a referendum.

“The Irish government needs to establish a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Unity, bring forward a White Paper, and convene a Citizens’ Assembly inclusive of the entire island to discuss and plan for reunification,” he said.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said on Friday that she thinks people living in Northern Ireland would not vote for a united Ireland.

Speaking at the first meeting of the North South Ministerial Council meeting in three years, she said: “I have to say everyone knows my position in relation a border poll. If it was called today, of course people would vote to remain in the United Kingdom.”

The online commemoration, which was broadcast on social media platforms, featured the poetry of Bobby Sands and music from Damien Dempsey.

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