A United Ireland - A Home To All
However hard some within the Irish and British governments, political unionism, and sections of the media, try to blunt or distract the ongoing debate about Irish Unity, they fail.
The conversation around a united Ireland continues to grow apace. Many commentators have reflected on unity in their recent contributions, some negatively but most constructively.
The big focus for many is on what are the next steps as we seek to positively resolve the constitutional question. In an opinion piece in the Irish Times Economist David McWilliams examined the recent statistics on trade north and south - which is commented on in a later article. He said: “The increased integration of the island economy serves to refocus our minds on constitutional change which is coming.”
McWilliams examined the demographic shifts that have taken place in the North over recent decades.
He notes that: “Based on the 2011 census, (the most recent we have) under the age of 40, self-identified Catholics are in the majority in Northern Ireland. This becomes more evident as the population gets younger. In the youngest age group of 0-5, Catholics comprise 44.3 per cent, Protestants 31.7 per cent, and no religion 23 per cent.”
McWilliams is right in acknowledging that the use of religious labels may not accurately reflect voting intentions but they do “give a good approximation” he says.
While Protestants now only comprise a majority in two of the North’s six counties they would still constitute around 15 per cent of the population of the island of Ireland. In the 2011 census approximately 48 per cent identified themselves as British only or British/Northern Irish only.
They are as McWilliams defines them, “a distinct community whose identity, culture and interests must be served in a united Ireland. They are not Irish, and you cannot force them to be Irish.”
Sinn Féin are clear about our objective of a citizen centred rights based Republic as set out in the 1916 Proclamation but whatever constitutional arrangements we eventually arrive at it is vital that they emerge from open, public, democratic conversations – including in a Citizens Assembly and/or Constitutional Convention – which seek to address the concerns of all, but in particular the unionist section of our people in the North.
This can best be achieved through a process of dialogue, open, and democratic, which is inclusive of all voices and excludes no one. In such discussions, as in the negotiations around the peace process, the key to success means that everything must be on the table for negotiation and no issue should be excluded.
If someone wants to discuss what the flag of the new Ireland should be or what anthem we should stand to or any other matter that is of concern, they have the right to do so. We will all have issues we want on the agenda.
All of these developments and commentary are naturally part of the ongoing work of advocating for Irish Unity. It is taking place every day on social media, in the newspaper columns, on the broadcast media, in interviews and publications and through public events.
While the Irish and the British governments, and others might want wish it away the future of this island and the potential for a United Ireland is now top of the agenda. Join the Conversation