Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said the creation of any forum on Irish unity is welcome but must go beyond rhetoric.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“I welcome the creation of any Forum to discuss Irish Unity but this must go beyond rhetoric.
“The only way forward is the referendum contained in the Good Friday Agreement, of course that must be preceded with debate and discussion.
“I look forward to an invitation to participate in this proposed Commission.
“Sinn Féin is currently the party with the largest mandate across the island of Ireland. We will use our mandate to advance Irish unity wherever there is an opportunity to do so.
“Colum Eastwood has asserted that Sinn Féin is toxic to unionists. I reject that entirely.
“In increasing numbers, people from a unionist background have attended Sinn Féin constituency offices over the years and indeed they are most welcome to do so.
“Sinn Féin is about creating a new and inclusive Ireland where all cultures, backgrounds and religions are accepted and protected.
“I hope that unionists will engage with this proposed Forum and that political unionism shows leadership on this issue.
“The Irish Government needs to step up to the mark and plan for Irish Unity. The SDLP, and all political parties, should be part of this.
“I wish to reiterate Sinn Féin’s long-held request that the Irish government establish a fully inclusive Citizen’s Assembly to discuss this topic. They also need to bring forward a white paper on Irish Unity and they need to bring their influence to bear on the British government and secure a date for a referendum on Irish Unity within the next five years.
“This is a live issue; the mechanism is within the Good Friday Agreement and it’s time the people of Ireland had their say.”