Belfast Telegraph

Fianna Fail TD proposes united Ireland could celebrate Twelfth and rejoin Commonwealth

Fianna Fail TD Malcolm Byrne
Fianna Fail TD Malcolm Byrne

By Hugh O'Connell

A Fianna Fail TD has suggested that a united Ireland could rejoin the Commonwealth, make July 12 a public holiday and reserve 30% of Cabinet positions for unionists.

Wexford TD Malcolm Byrne said he was supportive of his Fianna Fail colleague Stephen Donnelly's call for preparations for an Irish unity referendum to be ramped up in the wake of the General Election.

Mr Byrne said that there needed to be an "agreed" Ireland which would involve difficult decisions so that people from a unionist background felt part of a new country.

"That may mean a new national anthem or Ireland considering membership of the Commonwealth. Do we need to look at making July 12 a public holiday on the whole island and having a greater understanding of that period in both Irish and European history?" Mr Byrne said.

"The late Albert Reynolds once suggested that we could reserve 30pc of cabinet places for those from a unionist tradition - that could prove to be a very visionary statement."

He said nationalists and republicans will need to make institutions "inclusive" for a unionist minority.

Mr Donnelly said this week that the Government needed to come up with a detailed plan for unity after claiming England "couldn't give a fiddler's" about the North.

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He said the Government should follow the example of the Scottish government, which has published plans for what an independent Scotland would look like.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond said the comments by the Fianna Fail health spokesman were "utterly reckless" amid the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

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