Micheál Martin asked to participate in United Ireland debate – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called upon his constituency colleague and Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD to rethink his refusal to participate in a major United Ireland conference being hosted by Sinn Féin in Cork in February.
The Cork conference will be the third major conference in a series which saw previously well attended meetings in Dublin and Belfast.
Mr Martin has been invited to each one but has always declined to participate, and has declined a request to provide an alternative Fianna Fáil speaker. The event is taking place on February 24th in Cork City Hall.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“I find it disappointing that, once again, it appears that Fianna Fáil will not be represented at a discussion on the future political and constitutional shape of this island. It is particularly disappointing considering that this time, the debate is taking place on Micheál Martin’s doorstep.
"Deputy Martin needs to accept the responsibilities that come with being the leader of a major party in this country, particularly one which claims to be in favour of Irish unity.
“Those responsibilities include taking part in the debate, about setting out a collective vision for a United Ireland. The debate provokes many different perspectives and ideas, both for and against reunification, but such a debate can only strengthen the case for reunification.
“The objective that we share, of a United Ireland, undoubtedly warrants considerable discussion and debate.
“For our part, Sinn Féin understands that we cannot win a United Ireland campaign without the support of other parties who claim to support that objective. We want to hear Fianna Fáil’s, and Micheál Martins, perspective, we want to engage with it.
“Fianna Fáil, by the same token need to recognise that Irish Unity will not happen without engaging with Sinn Féin and others who actively campaign for Irish Unity. It is difficult to fathom why won't they talk to us about how we can collectively bring it about.
“Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil need to stop ignoring reality. They signed up for the prospect of a united Ireland at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. It has huge and growing support North and South.
"However, to realise it, we all, including Fianna Fáil to start actively planning for it and working towards it, and avoiding debate will not do that.
“Micheál has been happy to share platforms with DUP leader Arlene Foster and to echo DUP views on several issues. He should be equally willing to engage in what will be a constructive and important debate on the road to Irish unity.
“It is remarkable that while Fianna Fáil have refused to engage in Sinn Féin's series of ‘Towards A United Ireland’ conferences, unionist voices have been represented at each and will also be at the Cork event.
“A united Ireland will be better for everyone on our island in economic, social and political terms. Any political party that hides from the debate is doing their electors a great disservice.”