Sinn Fein demands date set for Irish unity referendum

By Steve Sweeney

SINN FEIN is urging its members and supporters to press the case for Irish unity, demanding that a date is set for a referendum as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

The party said its “message of change resonates with all those who want to see a new Ireland” with discussions on all aspects of unity taking place across the country.

It reminded supporters of the historical significance of the current period for Irish republicans with the forthcoming anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising and the proclamation of independence.

This saw “the coming together of the great national movements of the time, feminists, trade unionists, language and cultural activists” to proclaim an Irish republic.

“A revolutionary Irish republic based on the enduring principals of religious and civil liberty, equal rights, equal opportunities, happiness and prosperity for all its citizens and the unfettered control of our own destiny.

“The broad group of individuals demonstrated unity of purpose and commitment to a national idea,” Sinn Fein said in a statement.

The party insisted that the current situation presented an opportunity like no other since 1916 with the chance to “peacefully achieve Irish unity in the years to come.”

Sinn Fein stunned the political elite in February’s snap general election, winning the popular vote and finishing with 37 seats despite only standing 43 candidates.

Months of political wrangling lie ahead with prime minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael and Michael Martin’s Fianna Fail desperate to stop the republicans forming a government.

The pair were accused of “hoodwinking the public” by Sinn Fein spokesman Pearse Doherty on Thursday after it appeared that the pair had prepared to enter a coalition government together, despite being rejected by the public.

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Along with Brexit, the election results have put the issue of Irish unity firmly at the centre of the political agenda.

Provisions for a referendum on the issue are contained in the Good Friday Agreement which states that the “secretary of state” should call such a poll “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

Sinn Fein insist that a referendum should be set within the next five years and want to see an Ireland that is inclusive, respectful, uniting all who live on this island in the common cause of “cherishing all the children of the nation equally.”