Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has said there will be a united Ireland by 2030, describing the coming years as the "decade of opportunity".
Speaking with The Guardian columnist Owen Jones on his podcast, Ms McDonald also said unionists would be allowed to remain British in her vision of a united Ireland.
“We’ll do it in this decade, this is the decade of opportunity," she said when asked about a border poll.
“I believe that we can have our referendum, win it and win it well in the course of this decade and it’s my job as the leader of Sinn Fein and my colleagues and wider society to navigate us to that certain and safe shore.”
When asked how she would reassure unionists, Ms McDonald said that they will remain British in a United Ireland and that they can “articulate” their needs and concerns.
“I would say to our unionist friends, be part of this conversation. I absolutely respect the fact that unionists themselves can articulate best their needs, their ideas and their concerns.
“I think we need to make space for that conversation I think we need to acknowledge each other,” she added.
The Dublin TD conceded regrets her party should have run more candidates in the Republic's general election earlier in the year having seen it top the polls, but finish third in terms of the number of representatives in the Dail.
Ms McDonald said that she would have run more candidates if she had a “crystal ball”.
“We should have run more candidates and if I had been in the possession of a crystal ball and I could have accurately predicted what we were going to meet out on the campaign trail and the fact that that momentum for change would just grow so strongly, yes of course we would have run more candidates and we would have had more parliamentarians, more Teachta Dalai elected.”
She added: “I can tell you that that appetite still for change, for political change, beyond Fianna Fail - Fine Gael, Fine Gael - Fianna Fail is still alive and kicking.”
She added that she wants the party to lead the government after the next election in the Republic.
“But of course we want to be in government, after the next election I want election not only to be in government but to lead the government.
“Not least I have to be absolutely sure that we run the right number of candidates next time.”