Opening remarks by Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill at tonight’s panel discussion on ‘Brexit and Irish Unity’ in the Carrickdale Hotel.
“Today marks German unity day marking 29 years since reunification.
“Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the night of 9-10 November 1989 which symbolised the end of the Cold War and set in motion a chain of events that would forever change the face of Europe.
“As the unification of Germany is being celebrated by its citizens, the unification of Ireland has now also entered to the fore of political discourse in Ireland and Europe.
“The vast number of people on the island of Ireland are against the artificial divisions which exist in our country – whether visible or invisible, partition has failed.
“A growing number of people on the island believe that Irish unity is the democratic alternative to the unwanted Brexit being foisted upon citizens here.
“The EU has declared that in the future, and in the event of Irish reunification the North would automatically re-join the EU.
“The declaration by the EU states, ‘The European Council acknowledges that, in accordance with international law, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would thus be part of the European Union in the event of Irish reunification.’
“Those of a British unionist identity are starting to assess what this means, not because they wish to become Irish nationalists, but simply remain Europeans.
“The people on the island of Ireland should have a choice between Brexit and independence.
“Everyone is being challenged to rethink their economic future.
“There is an onus on the Irish Government to engage in this debate and to begin such preparatory work now in parallel with the conversations which have started in civil society.
“Long-term policies and resilient economic calculations, potential savings and synergies of the cost of reunification need to be developed by the Taoiseach and by the Dublin government.
“At this point, their short-sightedness if not addressed will lead to serious future economic problems.
“We need a national dialogue about the constitutional future, and what the political administrative and symbolic expression a New Ireland will take, including our economic model.”