Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams is in Newcastle this evening campaigning with Chris Hazzard.
Speaking tonight, Gerry Adams said:
“Brexit has created a new dynamic – a new context – in which there is the potential for significant political change across the North. It presents many challenges, but also opportunities. The historic constituency of South Down is at the heart of this. Chris Hazzard has been an exemplary MP. He has lead from the front. Against Brexit. For genuine power sharing and against the abuse of power.
In 2016 this constituency voted against Brexit by a margin of two to one. 67% voted to remain.
In recent years South Down has witnessed significant growth in the Sinn Féin vote. The 2017 Westminster result, and Chris Hazzard’s election, is evidence that nationalist and republican voters recognise that the political centre of gravity is now on the island of Ireland. The recent chaos and confusion at Westminster has confirmed the wisdom of this view.
Commenting on the issue of Irish Unity which is now centre stage Gerry Adams said:
“The Irish government has a duty and a constitutional obligation to make preparations for unity.
To examine the economic arguments.
The cultural and social dimensions.
The political dynamics.
To take account of the significant shifts in population and identity demographics in the North in recent decades.
To open this process up, and in consultation with, and through a process of inclusive dialogue, to persuade those – unionists, nationalists and others – who have reservations about unity – that Irish unity makes sense for them, for their families and for the future.
All of this needs to be planned for now.
That is the one big lesson of Brexit.
A referendum without a plan is stupid.
So a referendum on unity must be set in a thoughtful inclusive process which includes a programme of sustainable options.
A future power sharing government will have a central role in this.
That is if the power sharing government at Stormont can be restored – and this is very dependent on political unionism being prepared to embrace a new dispensation based on the rights foundation set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
The issue of a referendum on unity is now centre stage.
No other generation of Irish republicans has had this opportunity to end the union and partition.
The men and women of 1916 had no such mechanism.
Neither did Bobby Sands or Mairead Farrell and their contemporaries.
Despite resistance from both governments and the main unionist parties a referendum WILL be held.
Irish Unity is no longer an aspiration.
Irish Unity is a project – a winnable, doable project.
Finally, I appeal to working class unionists or loyalists who may read these remarks – to farmers, business people and civic unionists. The DUP say Theresa May and Boris Johnson betrayed them. Ask yourselves who is betraying who? Those unionists who voted against Brexit are being disrespected, ignored and betrayed. Not by Sinn Féin. You know where you stand with us. No it is the unionist political elites – MPs and others – on their fat salaries and big expenses who are letting you down.
They may huff and puff about Johnson and the English betrayers. But it’s all bluster. It is they who are betraying you. As they have for generations. As they do now with Brexit; as they do by voting against nurses pay increases, by divisive sectarian actions; by refusing to tackle poverty, disadvantage and divisions. By opposing basic and modest rights. Ask yourselves this my friends – who is fooling who?”