Sinn Féin: United Ireland could tackle Brexit and aid Covid recovery

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A sign erected during Brexit negociations, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Rebecca Black, PA

A reunified Ireland offers the best opportunity to tackle Brexit and economically recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Sinn Féin has claimed.

A new policy paper by the party, the Economic Benefits of a United Ireland, contends that Westminster decisions have been to the “economic detriment” of Northern Ireland, describing it as the “slowest growing economy on these islands”.

It advocates the potential of renewable energy across the island and points to the example of the reunification of Germany as how integration and investment can “substantially improve economic conditions in the smaller jurisdiction involved in transition”.

Sinn Féin’s paper also contends that Irish unity is a “main topic of discussion” in Ireland and internationally, adding that Brexit, the economic consequences of the pandemic and the climate and biodiversity crisis are “best faced with a united Ireland economy”.

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The paper calls on the Irish Government to prepare for unity, adding it has a “duty and a constitutional obligation” to do so.

“The time to begin planning to realise these economic benefits, and the broader benefits of reunification, is now," the papers urges.

While Taoiseach Micheál Martin created a Shared Island Unit within his department, at the virtual launch of her party’s paper, Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald said more is needed.

“We need now an agreed space, an agreed forum, a citizen’s assembly to ensure that those practical conversations and preparations begin now,” she said.

The fact is that we are going to have a referendum on Irish unity

“There is no excuse for anyone, much less any political leader to bury their head in the sand and to imagine that this issue is going to go away.

“The fact is that we are going to have a referendum on Irish unity, I believe we will win that referendum and win it well but we have to be in a state of preparedness.

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“That work needs to start now. Much more is required beyond the ambitions so far of this shared island unit.”

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Ms McDonald described the paper as an “invitation for everyone to participate to advance their view, ideas also concerns or fears for us to collectively map out the opportunities that Irish unity can afford”.

Also speaking at the launch, the party’s deputy president Michelle O’Neill described a “changing political landscape” with “political momentum moving in one direction”.

“Brexit has become a catalyst for that change and that conversation,” she said.

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