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Irish Government should begin planning now for Irish Unity - Ó Caoláin

25 February, 2005

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: Today Sinn Féin is extending an invitation to all those who share our heartfelt desire to achieve a United Ireland. We claim no monopoly on that demand - neither among the Irish people nor among Irish political parties. We want to commence a national and international process of planning for national reunification. So many of us share the goal of ending Partition and building Irish Unity and Independence - so it is long past time for us to begin to plan for that reunification in a systematic way.

This document sets out some of the practical steps that we need to take.

First and foremost the Irish Government needs to transform the aspiration for Irish unity into a real goal and to work strategically towards that goal.

As leader of the Sinn Féin TDs in the Dáil I want to very briefly set out what we see as the responsibility of the Irish Government to take a lead in this project.

  • We are urging the Taoiseach to commission a Green Paper on Irish Unity as the key starting point.
  • All strands of opinion represented in the Oireachtas should be participants in this and that is why we want to see an All-Party Oireachtas Committee on Irish Unity established.
  • We are proposing that a Minister of State should be appointed by the Irish Government with the dedicated and specific responsibility of driving forward and developing policy options and strategies to advance the outcomes of the Green Paper and to direct and coordinate the Government's all-Ireland policies.
  • Participation by people resident in the North in the democratic life of the nation should be facilitated through Northern representation in the Houses of the Oireachtas and voting rights in presidential elections.
  • The Irish Government, in consultation with the social partners, tortunity for people the length and breadth of this island to play their part in the great project of reuniting our country and our people.

I emphasise that this project is not just about the achievement of Irish Unity at some time in the future. It is about making a real difference to people‚s lives in the here and now. We need to see the integration of the island economy and the full co-ordination of public services like health and education and transport ˆ maximizing the benefits for everyone who shares this island.

In conclusion, I want to invite the ordinary members and supporters of Fianna Fáil in particular to engage in this debate and to begin very seriously to assess how the stated aim of their party can be achieved. I invite them to borrow freely from our ideas. Sinn Féin has no copyright on the road map to Irish unity. I extend that invitation to the members of other political parties too. But most importantly this is an opportunity for people the length and breadth of this island to play their part in the great project of reuniting our country and our people.

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