Fr Joe McVeigh thinks census figures, Brexit point to unification

Fr Joe McVeigh, a leading Catholic priest from Fermanagh, has said that recent census figures indicate that a unified Ireland is a strong possibility.

Speaking with The Irish Catholic, Fr Joe McVeigh said that recent census figures show that Northern Ireland could be a Catholic majority as early as 2021 which, coupled with stresses of Brexit, could help pave the way for a united Ireland.

“It’s very important that unionists face up to the changing realities here in the North and I’m glad that someone of his standing has done this,” said Fr McVeigh after former DUP leader Peter Robinson spoke of the possibility of a united Ireland in July.

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“And of course, some unionists will not like to hear this as they’ve expressed already, but it has begun. It’s not going to stop. It’s not going to end. It must continue,” Fr McVeigh added.

He also acknowledged there would likely be initial tensions between Catholic and Protestants were unification to become a reality. But he remains hopeful that the two groups could soon find peace.

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“Even if the British were taken out of the equation, there could be normal relationships. They would be on an equal basis – the Protestant idea of supremacy would be gone. That’s what’s holding normal relationships back.”

Last year, Fr McVeigh said he supports a united Ireland that includes space for unionists: “In a new Ireland, there must be safeguards in place to preserve their culture, their identity in the way that other former colonies have managed to maintain some type of association with their former government to which they held allegiance.

“In my view, it’s not a matter of the six counties joining the 26 counties; we have to begin again with a totally clean slate and a new beginning,” he said.

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