Kearney says Irish unity has become the defining issue of this generation
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has commended the organisers of the 'Beyond Brexit - The future of Ireland' conference in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast today, and said that achieving Irish reunification has become the defining issue of this generation.
Speaking after the event, the South Antrim MLA said:
"I commend the organisers of today's conference for bringing together such a large number of people to begin a progressive, civic discussion on the future of our country.
"It is clear from the attendance there is a huge appetite for this debate.
"It is also very obvious there is an undiminished discontent among Irish citizens in the north due to the onset of Brexit, and the continuing denial of democratic rights here.
"The breadth of representation at this event from within wider civic society across the north and beyond, is evidence of a seismic shift within progressive opinion.
"The fact is vast numbers of citizens are now discussing the implications of an increasing likelihood of a 'no deal' Brexit, and the effects the intransigence of the DUP and other sections of political unionism is having upon the political process.
"Progressive minded citizens recognise that the Good Friday Agreement is now under direct threat from the interlocking nature of both these crises. They are not prepared to put up with the denial of rights, and particularly rights which are enjoyed elsewhere in these islands.
"Today's conference was both outward and forward looking, notwithstanding the political challenges which we collectively face. This positive momentum must now be harnessed, and the dialogue advanced and built upon.
"I welcome the participation of the Irish government at the conference. Its presence was in itself an important statement.
"However, the Irish government should also pay close attention to the strength of opinion and feeling among the assembled audience.
"Political change between Ireland and Britain, and here on the island of Ireland is now unavoidable. Both the Irish and British governments should begin preparing to facilitate constitutional and political change.
"For its part, the Irish government should accept there is a momentum pointing towards Irish reunification. It needs to put institutional and legislative arrangements in place to manage that transition.
"The debate on Irish unity should threaten no one. Our shared future on this island must be inclusive of all sections and citizens in society. New accommodations and compromises will be necessary.
"The way forward will be found through engagement which delivers rights, respect and reconciliation for all our people. That outcome will be guaranteed in the context of a new agreed united Ireland.
"Achieving Irish unity has become the defining issue of our generation, and today's conference has made an important contribution to opening up that debate within civic society."