Sinn Féin National Party Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA has welcomed the decision by the Irish government to establish two Citizens’ Assemblies to examine biodiversity loss and the direct election of a Dublin Mayor.
Declan Kearney also called on the Taoiseach Micheál Martin to “establish a third Citizens’ Assembly to examine constitutional change on the island of Ireland.”
The Sinn Féin Party Chairperson said:
“Climate change and its impact, and measures to strengthen local democratic accountability are hugely important. I welcome the Irish government’s decision to establish two new Citizens’ Assemblies. However, constitutional change and the future shape of the island of Ireland in the 21st century is the defining issue of our generation.
“The debate on Irish reunification is growing daily. The momentum for constitutional change on this island has never been stronger. Questions about the future of the health service; the cost implications of unity; an all-island health service; future governance arrangements; taxation; pensions and public services; and the place of unionists within the new Ireland, are among many important issues that a Citizens’ Assembly could discuss in an informed environment.
“A Citizens’ Assembly can play a key and positive role in discussing all of these issues and mapping a way forward.
“The two Citizens’ Assemblies announced today are just the latest of similar initiatives over the last decade. The Irish Government has established similar bodies three times in the last decade. A Constitutional Convention was held between 2012-14, which included representation from the North; a Citizens Assembly ran between 2016-18; and a Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality was established in July 2019. Its report was given to the Oireachtas in June of last year.
“A Citizens’ Assembly representative of all sectors of society on the island of Ireland, with the aim of finding common ground, makes sense.
“It would be an historic opportunity to develop the public policy priorities and the political frameworks to enable the transition towards a new Irish national democracy.”
Concluding, the South Antrim MLA said:
“Constitutional change is now firmly fixed on the political horizon. It’s no longer a question of if, or even when, reunification will come about. The important question is how we bring it about.”