Brexit presents a real opportunity for constitutional change - Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD is in Cork this evening. Tonight’s meeting is one of 46 being held across the island to discuss Sinn Féin’s future ten-year strategy. Teachta Adams welcomed the “growing interest in and support for a referendum on Irish unity being part of the negotiations on Brexit that will take place in the next few years.”
The Sinn Féin leader has called on the Irish government “to defend and uphold the integrity of the remain vote by citizens in the north.”
Gerry Adams TD said:
“The British referendum result is probably the most serious political and economic crisis to face this island in many years. Cork will not be immune from the economic and political consequences of the Brexit negotiation. This state trades 1.2 billion euro each week with Britain. This sustains tens of thousands of jobs. It is therefore essential that we ensure the maximum cooperation and coordination of our response to this evolving situation.
“This week the Taoiseach agreed to put in place an island wide dialogue/forum to discuss how all sectors of society north and south will respond to Brexit. This is hugely important. In recent years the many cross border connections that have been established since the Good Friday Agreement have become stronger.
“For example, recently the two Ministers for Health, jointly announced a forty two million pound investment in an all-Ireland children’s heart service at the opening of a new cardiac unit in Dublin. All of these areas of cooperation could now be in question because of Brexit.
“As we try to chart a course through this the most pressing priority must be to protect the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement, its institutions and the two economies on this island.”
Speaking on the issue of an all-island referendum on Irish unity Teachta Adams said:
“The negotiation on Brexit presents important opportunities, not least the potential to redesign the constitutional and political future of the island of Ireland.
“There is a very real fear in the business and farming sector, in the community and voluntary sector, and especially within communities along both sides of the border; of the likely adverse economic and political implications of Brexit.
“But there are also opportunities. In these new political conditions, the appeal of being part of a new, reimagined confident Ireland may well prove very attractive to some unionists in the north. But achieving that will require political leaders here rising above their historical tendencies and developing an all island view.
“Why should the unionists move to explore new relationships on this island if some of the main parties are content with the old structures and current partitionist arrangements?
“All of us need to move beyond the rhetoric and into the reality of unity and the necessary programmes and outreach to achieve this very achievable objective. Part of this could include efforts to agree all-party approaches on the way forward.
“I welcome the Taoiseach’s recognition of the possibility and potential for a referendum on reunification to be part of any negotiations with the EU and Britain on Brexit. We now need to go beyond this by actively talking about the constitutional and institutional shape of that new Ireland. This is not just about 6 counties joining 26 counties. This is about uniting the people of this island and creating a new Ireland.
“If the Brexit vote has done anything it has thrown into sharp relief the damaging consequences of partition and the fact that in a changing EU it does not make sense that one part of this small island will be in the EU and the other part outside.”