Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney told the Cambridge Union tonight that the British government should accept the right to Irish self-determination and begin work to manage the transition to a United Ireland.
Speaking at a debate on a motion ‘This House believes NI Ought to Remain Part of the UK’ the minister in the northern Executive said:
“I oppose this motion because the continued jurisdiction of the British state in the north of Ireland represents a denial of the universally recognised right to self-determination.
“But your debate itself is very timely.
“Brexit has been a catastrophe not only for the north of Ireland where the majority of citizens voted to remain, but for businesses and workers in England, Scotland and Wales.
“It has created an earthquake at the heart of the British state and in Ireland the momentum for a united Ireland has never been greater.”
And the South Antrim MLA said that as attitudes change in the north the Irish government needs to convene a national Citizens’ Assembly on constitutional change. He said:
“Attitudes are changing in the north. Fundamental demographic change is happening.
“In April 2017, the EU announced that in the event of Irish unity the island of Ireland will have an automatic route back to full EU membership.
“A united Ireland would allow for the economy and society on the island to be organised and managed in the interests of Irish citizens.
“But we also need to plan the milestones of an orderly transition to Irish unity.
“That is why the Irish government should immediately convene a national Citizens’ Assembly on constitutional change to positively address the key policy areas and mechanisms for change.
“It should begin to plan for Irish unity.”
Declan Kearney said that British government policy towards Ireland has run out of road and that the two governments need to work in genuine collaboration. He said:
“These are unprecedented times.
“British government policy towards Ireland has run out of road. It needs to change.
“The British government should begin to work in genuine collaboration to manage the transition.
“Acceptance of the right to Irish self-determination and full implementation of the GFA should be adopted within British government policy.
“Both governments should set out a timetable of transition which facilitates reasoned, inclusive and respectful discussion.
“They should agree a date for concurrent Irish unity referenda north and south in accordance with the GFA.”