Belfast Telegraph

Michelle O'Neill: Vote on united Ireland within five years

Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill has called for a vote to be held on a united Ireland within five years.

Addressing a crowd who had turned out to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising at an event in west Belfast, Mrs O'Neill said the proposition gain traction within the unionist community as the impact of Brexit becomes apparent.

On the subject of Brexit, Mrs O'Neill said the debate around partition had taken on a new dynamic.

"The Good Friday Agreement’s political institutions, human rights guarantees, all-Ireland bodies, the constitutional and legal right of the people to exercise their right to self-determination and a united Ireland through consent, must all be protected," she said.

"I am confident as the consequences of Brexit become clearer and as we get closer to the withdrawal stage that more people from a unionist background – will be open to the idea of exploring new relationships on our island, and between Ireland and Britain.

"Because Brexit exposes the undemocratic nature of partition.

"Sinn Fein believes there should be a referendum vote on Irish unity within the next five years."

Her speech also covered the themes of the Good Friday Agreement and the significance of the 1916 Easter Rising.

"Republicans and Unionists have conflicting narratives, conflicting histories and conflicting allegiances," she said.

"That’s the reality. Part of the journey to reconciliation is about recognising that to be the case.

"Much hurt has been caused and real pain inflicted on all sides of the community.

"It takes time to heal those wounds and to build a new society together where we respect each other."

Mrs O'Neill also addressed the issue of Israeli state violence against Palestinian protesters in recent days, and called on Leo Varadkar to "send the Israeli Ambassador home and move immediately to recognise the state of Palestine".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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