Less than a week after the historic appointment of Sinn Féin Prime Minister Michelle O'Neill in Northern Ireland, the Republican Party yesterday once again put on the table the call for a referendum on reunification before the decade is out. It is expected to be a long road, and it aims to begin by opening a public debate before citizens, with the support of the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and involving the unionists with whom they share power in Belfast, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement. Good Friday Peace Agreements.
Sinn Féin's aim is to raise the profile of reunification as a medium-term goal, while building a broad base through effective and responsible government in Northern Ireland. Senior leaders of the Republican Party, historically linked to IRA terrorism, insist that as many actors as possible, both Catholic and Protestant, must be involved in a “respectful” and “mature” debate to determine the future of the self-governing province.
“The path to reunification must start now, with the approval of the Dublin government, regardless of who is in that government,” Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said yesterday at a press conference in London with foreign correspondents. “We need to have an inclusive conversation so that this leads to a planned, orderly, peaceful and democratic constitutional transition.” The Republican Party is confident of achieving victory in the next elections in the Republic of Ireland, scheduled to be held at the beginning of 2025, with the two regions leading this transformation.
Down at the polls
But the electoral field has become more open than ever. The latest opinion poll published by the Irish Times yesterday showed a loss of support for Sinn Féin by six percentage points compared to the previous survey. Republican power continues to lead the polls in Ireland, with its intention to vote at 28%, but its lead over its immediate rivals, the centre-right Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties – which together with the Greens lead the current government – has been reduced to eight points.
Sinn Féin's goal is to restore voter confidence by focusing on public policy on both sides of the border, including improving education and health care, as well as economic growth.
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