The Irish community in Britain needs to exert more political influence like their Irish American counterparts. The statement was made at an Irish unity conference in London, which was organized by Sinn Fein.

According to Sinn Fein, unification is "realistic and feasible" and can be achieved "within a meaningful time scale."

100 Irish emigrants and second generation Anglo Irish attended the conference.

According to former Labour Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Alf Dubs, "The Irish community in the U.S. has a lot of political clout , why is it that the Irish in Britain has much less? It really should have more political influence".

A 2001 UK census stated that 642,000 people in England and Wales listed their ethnicity as Irish, and a third of those were born outside of the Republic of Ireland.

Census regulations have changed and it is expected that the numbers claiming Irish ancestry in Britain will greatly increase in the 2011 census.

The conference explained that this change would allow the Irish to lobby for more investment at a local level.

The Federation of Irish Societies has started to draft an "Irish in Britain manifesto" for the upcoming elections.

According to the conference, the troubles and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, prevented the Irish from influencing political power in mainland Britain.

Chairman of the Irish Council of County Associations in London, John Connolly said that "the young are no longer terribly interested in them."

Gus Casey of the Irish Council of County Associations said, "We need to be able to put our case here. The Irish community should have representation where it matters."

Unite trade union official Jim Kelly said there is no " political organization to take forward political ambitions. It is no longer Labour."

Nora Kellett of the Luton Irish Forum said that the Irish should engage with British Muslims.

Kellett said that the Irish in Britain experienced similar pressure during the troubles.

"We are the template for the Muslims. Now it is happening to them. We've been there."

Pat Doherty said the Irish community "has the potential to directly influence a British government and to persuade British political leaders of the imperative of facilitating Irish reunification...and we have to persuade unionists - or at least a section of unionism-that such a development makes political, social and economic sense - that it serves their self interest."

"Within the current British system, unionists make up less than 2% of the population. They are a tiny minority presence on the margins of a British system that doesn't really understand or care about them. They have no significant influence within the political system. In a new Ireland, unionists would make up 20% of the population and be able to exercise real authority and real power and real influence."

Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Mitchell McLaughlin and Michelle Gildernew were unable to attend the conference as their flight was delayed.