MARY LOU McDonald has predicted a Untied Ireland within the next 10 years.
The Sinn Féin leader was speaking in an interview with Guardian columnist and activist Owen Jones, where she said a border poll will happen in the next few years, "and we will win it".
"We'll do it in the next decade," Deputy McDonald replied when asked about the potential for a border poll on the island of Ireland. "We'll do it in this decade, actually.
"This is the decade of opportunity."
"We can have our referendum, we can win it and win it well."
"A United Ireland will happen within a decade."
My interview with Sinn Fein leader @MaryLouMcDonald on British collusion with loyalist paramilitaries - and the turmoil of Brexit.https://t.co/yRmNR5EnsP
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) December 9, 2020
She urged Unionist leaders in Northern Ireland to become involved in the campaign, and insisted that even if the north votes to join the Republic, those who identify as British will remain British in a United Ireland.
"They are British in a partitioned Ireland and they will be British in a united Ireland," she promised. and urged them to "be part of this conversation".
"This is a national project" rather than a Sinn Féin project, she said. "It belongs to everybody."
Deputy McDonald claimed it was obvious the "winds of change are blowing" and a United Ireland is inevitable.
"It's game-on now, let's talk, let's plan, let's listen to each other."
Ms McDonald's approach is vastly different to that of Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who has insisted time and again that his government has no plans for a border poll, which he has described as "divisive".
The Government's new 'Shared Island Unit', rather than planning for a United Ireland, instead focuses on ensuring ""the views, values and traditions" of everyone on the island "are acknowledged and understood".
Asked at the launch of the initiative why unionists would engage with proposals from the Shared Island Unit, and what he could say to "provide confidence to unionists that this is not a way to engage in a united Ireland", Mr Martin responded that he has "made it very clear that this [a United Ireland] is not on the agenda", and will not be on the agenda for the next five years at least.
In the interview with Owen Jones, Deputy McDonald said Irish leaders who were shying away from the conversation about a Untied Ireland were "sticking their heads in the sand", and the consequences of Brexit had put the question of Irish unity "front and centre".