Need for imagination in achieving United Ireland - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for those who wish to see a United Ireland to be "open, imaginative and accommodating" in their approach to brining it about.
This, he said, might include the consideration of "transitional arrangements which could perhaps mean continued devolution to Belfast within an all-Ireland structure".
The Sinn Féin MEP was addressing a conference in the Corrymeela Centre Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, which was organised by the Irish Association and the Corrymeela Community.
Carthy said unionists had nothing to fear from Irish unity which could accommodate their feelings of Britishness, and that if Britain voted to leave the EU, there would be "democratic imperative" to allow a referendum on Irish unity.
He said the failure to realise the objectives of the 1916 Rising had negatively impacted on the lives of ordinary people North and South but that:
"The financial crash and its aftermath has politically educated an entire generation of people in Ireland.
"There is now an urgency among many young and not so young people to confront the shibboleths, hypocrisy and cant of the past and to build a much more open, progressive and equal society."
Saying "a united Ireland and an egalitarian Republic" is in the interests of everyone North and South, he claimed the centenary year of the Easter Rising provided an opportunity to look to a future beyond Partition:
"The only type of United Ireland that interests me in is one that is agreed, inclusive, pluralist and which is constructed by all our citizens, from whatever background or tradition."
Recognising that the agreement of a significant section of Unionists would be required for the building of a United Ireland he said any referendum on unity "should not be seen nor portrayed as threat to any section of the community".
The Midlands North West MEP went on:
"Sinn Féin's commitment to pursuing this merely underlines our firm resolve to end Partition peacefully, democratically and by agreement.
"In any referendum campaign we would seek to convince people of the economic, social and political potential of reunification."
Carthy said that if Britain voted to leave the EU in the next few weeks, there would a democratic imperative to allow people in Ireland to vote on Irish unity.
Saying unionists had nothing to fear from Irish unity felt that 100 years after the Easter Rising, republicans too need to be "open, imaginative and accommodating in our approach to bringing about a united Ireland".
"For instance, I think we need to able to consider transitional arrangements which could perhaps mean continued devolution to Belfast within an all-Ireland structure. What else could it mean? Why don’t we have some discussions about that?
Saying that the "historical trajectory is for the coming together of Orange and Green", he added:
"To those who say that this will not happen, it is worth noting that it is only a few short years since the idea of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin being in Government together would have been regarded as absurd. Yet this has happened."