Universities can play vital role in Unity debate – Finucane
Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has encouraged universities across Ireland to “step up the academic momentum that is gathering pace around the debate on a new and united Ireland.”
The North Belfast MP remarks follow the call from former Alliance Party leader and Fine Gael MEP John Cushnahan for universities and academics to provide detailed analysis of the constitutional options available for citizens.
John Finucane said:
“Sinn Féin has been consistently urging the Irish government to begin the process of planning for Irish Unity. It is vital that in advancing the objective of constitutional change the Irish government does not make the same mistake the Conservative government made in 2016 in failing to properly inform public opinion during the Brexit referendum.
“Preparation and planning are essential in charting a new constitutional path for the island of Ireland. Academics and universities, many of whom are already involved in examining aspects of the unity debate, have an important contribution to make in ensuring that decisions taken are informed and based on the best available information.
“Many academics and student unions’ are already involved in the debate on constitutional change, including discussing constitutional protections, rights of citizens and the date for the unity referendum. Dublin City University, Queens, New University of Ulster, Liverpool University and University College London have all produced detailed reports on these issues.
“In addition a number of student unions across Ireland have passed resolutions supporting a united Ireland.
“As the conversation continues to grow, the input and expertise that universities can bring to key areas of governance like law, the economy, health provision and much more will be crucial in setting out how a new Ireland can be inclusive, based on equality and will work for all our citizens.
“The momentum for constitutional change on this island has never been stronger. Discussion is taking place everywhere. Now is the time for the Irish government to establish a national Citizens’ Assembly on constitutional change to allow people to have their say.”