Taoiseach says Irish unity a ‘political aspiration’

Taoiseach Says Irish Unity A ‘Political Aspiration’
Simon Harris was asked on Wednesday about weekend comments from his predecessor Leo Varadkar about unity.
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By David Young, PA

The Taoiseach has said achieving a united Ireland remains his political aspiration but insisted his current focus is promoting practical cooperation on the island.

Simon Harris was asked on Wednesday about weekend comments from his predecessor Leo Varadkar about unity.


Speaking at an Ireland’s Future event in Belfast, Mr Varadkar expressed hope the next government in Dublin would actively work towards achieving unification and set it as a “political objective”.

He said the Government should also consider using its budget surplus to set up a fund to prepare for the economic challenges of Irish unity.

Mr Harris was asked about his comments as he attended the opening of a new phase of the Ulster Canal restoration in Clones, County Monaghan.

Restoring the canal is a key north/south investment project.


“I think it’s good that we now live in a country and on an island where people are freely and regularly discussing the future. I think that is a good thing,” said the Taoiseach.

Mr Harris praised the work of the Government’s Shared Island Unit, which invests in projects of mutual benefit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“It is the legitimate aspiration of any nationalist or any republican to want a united Ireland,” he added.

“That is my political aspiration, as well.


“But I think the practical ways in the right moment in time now is to keep on looking for practical ways of working together, embed the (Good Friday Agreement) institutions, extend the hand of friendship, win over hearts and minds.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who also attended the event in Clones, said the main priority needed to be reconciliation.

“I think the most significant investment we can make into the future is an investment in reconciliation,” he said.

“That’s the hard work.


“And there’s a lot of hard work still to be done in terms of reconciling the different traditions on this island.

“And that’s what we, I think, need to focus on in the coming while.”

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