December 6, 2022
Change is in the air – an appeal to Protestant neighbours – Kearney

Declan Kearney MLA, the Chair of the party’s Commission on the Future of Ireland speaking tonight in Derry at an event organised by the Commission – Celebrating Diversity – Ending Division – appealed to “our Protestant neighbours, and unionist people in our society” to engage in the conversation on constitutional change.

Declan Kearney urged those from the Protestant/Unionist section of society “who may already be considering this process of change; or who may hold reservations about reunification; to identify the guarantees and protections which are important to you. 

Sinn Féin does not own the Irish unity debate. We want it to be inclusive, flexible and genuine. Nor do we claim to have all the answers. That’s why structured dialogue is essential. A genuine and open discussion should be taking place about the principles and reassurances required to underpin a new constitutional settlement on the island.

That’s why the Irish government should establish an all island Citizen’s Assembly without further delay. The people should be sovereign. It is they who must self determine our future on this island. Everyone should have their say. And, no one should be left behind.”

The Chair of the Commission told his Derry audience:

“Irish unity isn’t inevitable but everyone is talking about the possibility.

It is on the political horizon. The academic and economic modelling and mapping has already begun. Books and research papers on every aspect of the Irish reunification are being published.

And all of that is being fuelled by demographic change and electoral realignment north and south. In the north, the once permanent unionist electoral majority has gone. In the south, the century old dominance of the two big conservative parties has been eclipsed. 

Change is in the air. There’s a desire for something new to replace the status quo. And it’s growing in momentum…

Brexit has put the constitutional status of the north centre stage, and triggered an unprecedented conversation about the future. Many, and including an undefined section of people from Protestant backgrounds, are engaged. Something very profound is happening. The landscape is changing. That was in evidence at the recent Ireland’s Future Ulster Hall gathering. But it’s also reflected in the Together UK group launched by Arlene Foster. I think that’s a welcome development.

 Admittedly, its stated aim is to counter growing support for constitutional change. But all sides need to be heard. It makes sense for proponents and opponents of Irish unity to be engaged with each other in respectful and rational debate.”

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