‘Tiocfaidh ar lá’ for Irish unity, says councillor

Query raised on Citizens’ Assembly.

A local Sinn Féin councillor says he hopes the “day will come” that a Citizens’ Assembly will be convened to discuss the Ireland’s constitutional future in the context of a unity referendum.

Cllr Paddy McDonald made the comment when addressing a response from the Office of the Táinaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micháel Martin addressing a request sent forward from the February meeting of Cavan County Council.

At the time Cllr McDonald’s motion sought the setting up of a Citizens' Assembly “to give people from all backgrounds across the island a voice” ahead of any Irish unity referendum, and arguing that the debate on unity is “live and growing”.

As such, he stated, Ireland “must plan” for the necessary constitutional change.

Replying, the letter from the department signed off by the Private Secretary to the Táinaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs outlined that any approach by the Irish Government on such matters is guided by Article 3 of the Constitution, as amended in 1998. It said that in the event of a future referendum “within the consent provisions of the Good Friday Agreement”, that the government would make “all necessary preparations”.

The letter continued by saying that the government “respects and affirms everyone’s right on the island to make the case for the constitutional future they wish to see”.

With respect to Brexit, and how this has “led to more civic discussion and engagement, North and South, about constitutional change”, the letter goes onto say: “It is important that there is an inclusive, constructive and open engagement on the future of the island”.

Welcoming research already undertaken at academic level to examine different themes relating to the “possibility of future constitutional change”, the official letter concludes: “The government will continue to listen to and engage with the views of everyone on this island, both on rights issues and on the constitutional future that they wish to see for Northern Ireland.”

While stating there was “nothing too positive” contained in the letter with regard to the prospect of a Citizens’ Assembly being called anytime soon, Cllr McDonald still welcomed the response.