SINN FÉIN has said the Irish government will be making the ‘biggest mistake’ if they do not make plans for a referendum on a united Ireland.
Party President Mary Lou McDonald was speaking at the Beyond Brexit conference in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall today.
The event looked at the possible ramifications of Brexit on people in Ireland, particularly in the North.
Ms McDonald said the Irish government would be denying people the ‘democratic right to define their future’ if it ignored calls for a unity referendum.
'History is unfolding'
“To those that say, ‘now is not the time for unity’, I say otherwise,” said Ms McDonald.
“History is unfolding. The next chapter is being written. Now is the time.
“The biggest mistake – and most reckless course of action – is for leaders to set their face against the inevitable and to try to deny the people their democratic right to define their future.
“It is irresponsible and arrogant for a Dublin government to shout down any prospect of a unity referendum.
“The responsible thing to do is to play a part in shaping change and engage in the debate that is underway.
“I want to, again, challenge the government in Dublin to convene a forum to begin the planning for Irish unity.”
Ms McDonald said that regardless of the outcome of the Brexit vote, there would be a unity referendum.
Addressing any unionist fears over a possible united Ireland, Ms McDonald said they would be ‘partners’ in shaping the country.
“The Unionist community will not only have a home in Ireland, they will have a place at the table. A place at the centre of political life and not left in the margins of Westminster,” she said.
“The Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community are part of the diversity of our nation.
“They are part of the discussion to shape a new Ireland. They are partners in building a new Ireland.
“Our shared, but oft times, troubled history can be reconciled.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has previously dismissed Sinn Féin’s calls for a referendum, labelling them ‘disruptive’.