Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
According to the Irish Examiner the North’s deputy Joint First Minister, Martin McGuinness, has called for a northern referendum on the reunification of Ireland to take place sometime between 2016 and 2021, as Sinn Féin stages a series of conferences on the political and economic benefits of unification.
“In the party’s most explicit outlining of a vote timetable yet, the North’s deputy first minister says it is his ambition to see the referendum held during the next term of the Belfast Assembly.
“It just seems to me to be a sensible timing. It would be on the question of whether or not the people of the Six Counties wish to retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland. It could take place anytime between 2016 or 2020-21,” he said.
“I don’t see any reason whatsoever why that should not be considered.
“I think, in all probability, the people who have got the power to put that in place won’t even contemplate it this side of the next Assembly elections, which conceivably could be 2015 or 2016.”
The deputy first minister believes the Democratic Unionist Party can be persuaded to agree to such a dramatic move.
Under the Good Friday Agreement, the final say on when a referendum on the future of the North would be held rests with the British secretary of state.
The Nationalist government in Edinburgh has provoked a furious row with Downing St over its plans to hold a vote on Scotland leaving the UK in 2014.
Mr McGuinness does not think the financial and economic crash experienced by the Republic would put Northerners off voting to leave the UK.
“It’s a mistake to think people are going to decide their future on what has been a particularly disastrous period of the handling of the economy by the government in Dublin.
“People will make a decision on the potential that the reunification of Ireland can bring for them in terms of political stability and in terms of having economic levers in their own hands.”
Though population experts predict people from a Catholic background will form the majority in the North within a generation, Mr McGuinness said it was “too sectarian” to expect people to vote on strictly religious lines.”
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has echoed the words of Martin McGuinness, stating that he believes we would:
“… all benefit economically from a united Ireland.
“I don’t think that it is the case that the 26 counties would be broke if we had the six counties, actually the opposite,” he said.
“I see a lot of duplication, I see two economies that are struggling, but also see that there’s huge potential, particularly when you’ve got two out of the top four largest cities on the island of Ireland are actually in the North.””
Meanwhile the Derry Journal reports a large attendance at the Uniting Ireland Conference in the city:
“Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were among the speakers along with Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea, former senior civil servant and economist George Quigley and trade unionist Inez McCormick.
Those in attendance also included Rev. David Latimer, Minister of First Derry Presbyterian Church…
Basil McCrea said unionists should not be afraid of entering the debate on a united Ireland and while acknowledging that some unionists might regard his decision to participate as “strange”, he felt it necessary to engage in debate. He added that traditional political ideas must be challenged in the face of economic uncertainty.”
It would seem that the so-called United Kingdom is under renewed political pressure from all those who live under its authority, forcibly or otherwise. Let us hope that the British state responds to these new developments with a respect for democracy and the ballot box that it has singularly failed to display in the past. We must never again have the situation where an 11% British minority, through violence and the threat of violence, are allowed to overthrow the wishes of the 89% Irish majority.