November 4, 2019
Kearney welcomes powerful civic intervention to establish national citizens’ assembly

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has welcomed the intervention by Ireland’s Future, supported by almost 1,100 Irish citizens in Ireland and the diaspora, which calls for the establishment of a national citizens’ assembly to discuss future constitutional change and the transition to Irish unity.

The MLA for South Antrim said:

“Today’s open letter published in both the Irish Times and Irish News by Ireland’s Future, and signed by nearly 1,100 individual Irish citizens is a powerful expression of a discussion which is already happening about constitutional and political change in Ireland.

“Brexit has swept away all of the previous assumptions about the constitutional, political or economic status quo.  We are now in a totally different situation.

“The inescapable reality is that the issue of Irish reunification has moved centre stage. A widespread discussion is occurring in Irish society, both north and south, and across the Irish diaspora.

“Significant sections of international opinion, especially in Europe are focussed upon pathways to reunification, and the role of a unity referendum.  Substantial academic and economic research have been published in recent times confirming the economic viability of Irish unity.

“It is time for the momentum of all this discourse to be properly structured.  There is an immediate strategic imperative on the Irish government to facilitate a comprehensive national discussion about the future.

“That is why this call to An Taoiseach by these many representatives of Irish civic society to convene a national citizen’s assembly is so important. 

“An inclusive and constructive process of discussion involving all sections of Irish society is required.  An agreed, united Ireland must guarantee the identities and rights of all citizens.  Thoughtful and generous compromises need to be explored and agreed with unionists. 

“A national discussion leading into an eventual negotiation about our collective future in Ireland will be challenging, but it will also be exciting.  It would give us all an opportunity to rethink the nature of Irish society within a new constitutional, national democracy.

“Public opinion is already looking to the future.  Irish civic society is finding its voice.  Full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement provides a democratic framework to manage future change.

“The Irish government and all our political parties should listen and act positively.

“The Irish government should act on its responsibility to give leadership on the implementation of constitutional reform. British government policy towards Ireland must change. Both governments should accept the requirement to help navigate the transition to Irish unity. Change in the political relationship between Britain and Ireland is now unavoidable.

“Irish unity is the defining issue of our generation.  It is both a reasonable and achievable democratic outcome, but the reunification of Ireland also needs to be properly planned.

“An Taoiseach should embrace this appeal from Irish civic society, which has such a pivotal role to play in helping shape the future of our country.

“Sinn Féin looks forward to having an early opportunity of meeting with Ireland’s Future to discuss its proposal for a national citizens’ assembly.”

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