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Carthy calls for cross-party co-operation on issue of united Ireland

24 September, 2016

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for co-operation among various parties on the issue of a united Ireland.

Mr Carthy remarks were made as he gave the opening address to a debate on 'Nationalism post-Brexit' at the Lighthouse Indian Summer School in  Killough, Co. Down.

The debate also heard contributions from Fianna Fåil TD Darragh O'Brien and Carmel Hanna of the SDLP.

During the course of his address Matt Carthy said:

"With the challenges presented by Brexit, there is an onus on all political parties and media outlets to create space for a real debate on the future.

"We need every party, organisation and individual who aspires to see a United Ireland to clearly set out their positions and to bring the debate to the next level.

"The extent to which Brexit has shifted the tectonic plates can be seen in the fact that it has resulted in a Fine Gael Taoiseach talking publicly about the possibility of a United Ireland.

"But Mr Kenny needs to do more than talk in vague terms about the possibility of unity at some undefined point in the future.

"Mr Kenny, his Government and his party must rise above their own historical tendencies and develop a genuinely all-island view.

"The same applies to Fianna Fáil. At the moment, Micheál Martin only ever speaks about the North in the Dáil when seeking to use it to score cheap political points against Gerry Adams. That is simply not good enough anymore.

"Why should unionists move to explore new relationships on this island if the establishment parties in the South are determined to maintain outdated approaches, partitionist attitudes and who see the North merely as a stick with which to beat Sinn Féin?"

Carthy said a new, reimagined, confident and reconciled Ireland was one which was increasingly attractive "young, outward looking people" from a unionist background.

He said:

"Young people, on a whole range of social and political issues, are casting off the received attitudes which were the product of decades of sectarian segregation and the dominance of a deeply conservative unionist ideology.

"We have seen this development in terms of the campaign for marriage equality and on other issues in the North."

Mr Carthy said it is now time that all parties, organisations and individuals who support the ideal of a United Ireland, moved beyond rhetoric and into the reality of devising programmes and outreach to achieve this objective.

He said:

"Part of this could include efforts to agree all-party approaches on the way forward.

"Those parties represented here today - Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, and the SDLP, should all be open to exploring new ways of governance on this island.

"In the coming weeks, Sinn Féin will publish what I believe will be an important discussion document on this issue.

"Its purpose will be to encourage debate on Irish reunification and to give some shape to the type of new Ireland that is possible. 

"Our ideas will not be prescriptive on the shape of a united Ireland nor will it be a comprehensive evaluation of the benefits of unity. 

"It seeks to encourage debate and discussion. I would ask the other parties here to do the same.

Sinn Féin's United Ireland campaign is currently seeking to promote debate, discussion and analysis.

We also believe that a referendum on unity is a key part of the process of discussion, of informing, of people coming to conclusions about what they really want for the future of this island."

Mr Carthy said Sinn Féin would welcome any proposals or ideas from any quarter in relation to the peaceful achievement of Irish reunification.

He said:

"Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the SDLP all have our major differences on issues of social and economic policy.

"However, on paper at least, all of us are meant to be committed fundamentally to the achievement of Irish reunification.

"Fianna Fáil, in particular, need to get past telling Sinn Féin that "the time is not right" when we call for a unity poll.

"To be frank, lads, you need to come up with better than that – otherwise the public may begin to think that your commitment to Irish unity is a pretence. 

"Come up with some ideas, some proposals, at least the outline of some strategy for unity.

"Let us engage genuinely with each other - and then with others - on preparing the ground and taking the necessary practical steps for unity."

The Midlands North West MEP said he genuinely hope that today's event would be the beginning of a process which will see the parties represented share further platforms to discuss and promote a real, inclusive debate on bringing about an agreed, United Ireland.


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