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Green Paper on Irish unity is relevant, essential and long overdue

22 March, 2005


Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin has described Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern's comment that he doesn't believe that a Green Paper on Irish unity would be relevant as "a bizarre comment from a senior representative of the largest republican party on the island". Mr. McLaughlin said "a Green Paper on Irish unity is relevant, essential and long overdue."

Mr. McLaughlin said:

"Dermot Ahern's comments in Newry last night speak volumes about the Irish government's attitude towards Irish unity. It is bizarre that a senior representative of the largest republican party on the island would oppose efforts to transform the aspiration for Irish unity into a real goal. Rather than being 'irrelevant' discussing and planning for Irish unity should be a priority for all nationalist and republican parties.

"These are difficult times in the peace process and of course our primary focus has to be on moving out of the current crisis. But we need to do more than that. We need to put the peace process back on track and ensure that what we achieve is democracy and a permanent peace.

"Sinn Féin believes that this is best done in the context of Irish unity and that the practical planning for re-unification should begin now. This is not about'putting fear into people' as the Minister suggests it is about talking about and planning for the future.

"A key part of this will be widespread consultation at home and abroad and every effort must be made to engage with unionist opinion and to consider, discuss and engage with them about the nature and form a new Ireland will take.

"Instead of running away from this issue there is a responsibility on the Irish government to take the lead and bring forward a strategy to achieve national self-determination, Irish re-unification and national reconciliation.

"However, Minister Ahern comments suggest that Irish unity is no longer even on the agenda of his party. If that is the case he should be honest enough to say so and not hide behind the crisis in the process." ENDS

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