Belfast Telegraph

Group claims unionists discussing merits of united Ireland in call for Citizens Assembly

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

A group campaigning for a united Ireland has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to plan on how to build support for a border poll, claiming unionists are beginning to discuss how ending partition could work.

The civic nationalist group Ireland's Future urged the Taoiseach to convene a citizens assembly to discuss options.

Published in Monday's Irish News and The Irish Times, the Londonderry-born Republic of Ireland international footballer James McClean, Fermanagh actor Adrian Dunbar, concert promoter Peter Aiken and businessman David Gavaghan, the former head of Stormont’s Strategic Investment Board, were among the 1,000 people to sign the open letter from across the world and from academia, arts, business, education, health and trade union movements.

The letter expresses "deep concern of the negative repercussions" Brexit is having on the country, the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.

"Brexit has changed everything," it said.

"The constitutional, political, social and economic status quo on the island of Ireland is now in flux."

The letter said Irish citizens should continue to enjoy the rights of being in the EU and it was the responsibility of the Dublin administration to ensure those rights and their "democratic wishes" were respected and protected no matter where they lived on the island.

It said the debate around a united Ireland had moved to "centre stage" with many people involved in "formal and informal" discussions on the matter. It said a "new conversation" was required and called for the Irish Government to beginning planning.

"A clear majority of the people in Ireland, both in this state and in the north, want to remain in the European Union," the letter continued.

"The majority of the citizens in the north voted remain in the 2016 referendum. This includes many unionists.

"In recent years a conversation about Ireland's future and the place of unionists in it, is publicly taking place among unionists. This is a welcome development."

It concluded by urging the Taoiseach to start planning for the eventuality of a border poll as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

"We ask the Government to establish a Citizens Assembly reflecting the views of citizens north and south, or a forum to discuss and achieve maximum consensus on a way forward."

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