Belfast Telegraph

Dublin urged to plan for united Ireland by civic group

Call: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Call: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Nationalist campaigners have called on the Taoiseach to plan for a united Ireland, claiming unionists are beginning to discuss how ending partition could work.

The civic nationalist group Ireland's Future urged Leo Varadkar to convene a citizens' assembly to discuss options. Published in the 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 about the negative repercussions which Brexit will have for our country, for the Good Friday Agreement and for 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 begin 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 to 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 a united Ireland now.

"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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