Belfast’s Lord Mayor John Finucane made the comments while speaking at the MacGill Summer Institute this week
Belfast’s Lord Mayor John Finucane said this week that “a unity referendum is coming” for the island of Ireland.
Speaking at the 39th annual MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, Lord Mayor Finucane was featured on a panel entitled "How to achieve a new and agreed Ireland and what form might it take?"
In his speech, Finucane said: “There is no good that will come from Brexit, for Ireland North or Ireland South.”
Finucane said that Irish unity “is a conversation that has been triggered by the reality of Brexit and what the potential implications of it may be for future relationships within and between these islands."
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, which we want to absolutely avoid, Sinn Fein has told the British government that it is incumbent on the Secretary of State to hold a border poll given the seismic constitutional upheaval and allow the people themselves to decide our constitutional future as provided for within the Good Friday Agreement.”
Finucane believes the debate about a united Ireland does not have to be divisive, but rather it can be “mature, rational, and respectful.”
Finucane noted that should Irish reunification happen, EU leaders have confirmed that Northern Ireland would automatically rejoin the EU.
“Let’s not shy away from the reality that a unity referendum is coming and we must prepare for it," Finucane said.
“Brexit has exposed the undemocratic nature and failure of partition in Ireland which has created an artificial future which has and will remain contested.”
There is “no reason why not preparatory work cannot be done now," Finucane said.
“Make no mistake, this is happening. A unity referendum is coming, and we must prepare for it.”
Finucane also called upon Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to “appoint a Minister of State with the dedicated and specific responsibility of developing strategies to advance Irish unity and coordinating the Government’s all-Ireland policies.”
Fianna Fail’s leader Micheál Martin, speaking on the same panel as Finucane, said that a “border poll in the immediate aftermath of Brexit 'will inflame the situation.’”
Martin says that a border poll in the immediate aftermath of Brexit “will "inflame the situation".— Christina Finn (@christinafinn8) July 23, 2019
The panel on 'New Ireland' was hosted the same day that Boris Johnson was named the new leader of the Tory Party in the UK, paving the way for him to become the UK's new Prime Minister.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that Mary Lou McDonald, president of Sinn Fein, has since written the recently-announced new Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson requesting a meeting with the topic of Irish unity on the agenda.
Elsewhere at the MacGill Summer School, SDLP MLA for South Belfast Claire Hanna said: “to put the foot hard on the pedal for reunification as a direct consequence of Brexit is to risk repeating the lasting, profound and mirror image mistake of the past, simply a rerun of the last century and of an unhappy minority trapped.”
Hanna added that a unity poll "should be the last, and not first, piece of the jigsaw."
Do you think a unity poll is on the way for Ireland? Let us know in the comments