LondonRepublicans on the island believe a referendum on Irish unification is within reach. This will happen in the current decade, Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, who arrived in the British capital accompanied by the newly appointed Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, predicted on Thursday afternoon in London.
After two years of unionist deadlock, O'Neill made history on Saturday when he became the first Republican to assume the highest judicial authority in a province that was once the preserve of those loyal to the British Crown. MacDonald and O'Neill participated in a press conference with a group of foreign correspondents, and the historic heir to Gerry Adams expressed her optimism about the future of the unified island.
But for the referendum to become a reality, the first condition was that the Dublin government, “whoever occupies it, begin working to conduct an open and frank dialogue about the needs of the country,” for the two communities to discuss “how to achieve this.” The unity of the island can benefit both the Republic and the North.” He continued: “What this land needs is an organized and peaceful constitutional transition plan.”
Have the polls dropped?
The Republican's claims came on the same day an opinion poll, the second in the past two weeks, showed Sinn Féin losing ground in the Republic and seeing a six-point drop to 28% in public support.
Ireland is scheduled to go to the polls in February next year. So far, and consistently over the past two years, Sinn Féin has led its main rivals – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – by ten points. Despite this decline, he still has an eight-point lead over Fianna Fail and nine points over Fine Gael, the two centre-right parties that currently share power in the coalition and have historically shared government in Dublin. The previous poll put Republican support at 25%, three points lower than the one published on Thursday The Irish Times.
Macdonald did not evade the topic, saying that they must analyze the reason for this data, but he also stressed that in Ireland “there is a breath of change” and that, despite everything, he believes that “we have managed to achieve it.” to maintain the momentum” generated in the 2020 election.
Sinn Féin achieved excellent results, leading by a few tenths over the two rival parties, and the formation hopes to confirm this push within a year. “Our challenge – recalls the Republican leader – is to present our project, not to show where the government parties have failed. This is clear: housing, health and public services. But we need to clearly show our proposals and alternatives for the Irish solution.” “.
Building a united future Ireland is a task that the Sinn Féin leadership sees as parallel work, whether from Dublin or Belfast. From the two capitals, “many questions must be answered.” MacDonald listed some key issues, bearing in mind the debate that took place in Scotland in 2014 regarding, for example, pensions, currency and citizenship. But in addition, MacDonald called on the British government to clarify the holding of the virtual referendum. His request comes after comments from the British Minister for Northern Ireland, Christopher Heaton Harris, who confirmed last Monday that “the referendum will never take place.”
Macdonald responded: “The British government’s position is unrealistic. It is behaving like an ostrich, hiding its head under the ground. There is change now. The referendum clause is in the Good Friday Peace Agreement. We” “have asked more prime ministers to define what “They consider it a threshold or criteria for advocacy. So far they have not done that, but they will have to clarify the question.” The threshold can be determined, for example, from the Stormont Assembly elections.
The sisters chuckle
Northern Ireland's new shared government, launched on Saturday, is just getting started, but faces huge challenges including reforming health and education, as well as public services such as transport, which have deteriorated due to a lack of investment and £3.3 million. A billion-dollar shipping freeze was supposed to be implemented by London, but it was not implemented due to the lack of an effective government.
O'Neill will have to work with the deputy prime minister, unionist Emma Little Pengelly. If Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley deserve the nickname The Chuckle Brothers – a comedy duo hugely popular in the islands – because of their unlikely friendship when they shared the government between 2007 and 2008, after a life of confrontation and rivalry, the question is whether O'Neill and Little Pengelly They will henceforth be known as the Chuckle Sisters.
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