A reunified Ireland offers the best opportunity to tackle Brexit and economically recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Sinn Féin has said.
A new policy paper by the party, ‘The Economic Benefits of a United Ireland’, contends that the British government’s decisions have been to the “economic detriment” of the North, describing it as the “slowest-growing economy on these islands”.
It advocates the potential of renewable energy across the island and points to the example of the reunification of Germany as how integration and investment, including from the EU, can “substantially improve economic conditions in the smaller jurisdiction involved in transition”.
“The discussion about the constitutional future of our island is live, and it is gaining momentum,” said Sinn Féin’s TD for Cork South Central, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, in relation to the launch of the paper.
“A united Ireland offers so much more for all citizens on the island.
“Irish unity would allow for co-ordinated investment and development. It would utilise economies of scale, allowing one economy to develop rather than having two economies compete with one another, North and South.
“The total value of cross-border trade now stands at more than €7bn every year. A greater number of businesses now trade from North to South than to anywhere else, including to Britain.
“This underlines the growing importance of the all-island economy. However, with partition, that potential will never be fully unlocked.”
Sinn Féin’s paper contends that Irish unity is a “main topic of discussion” in Ireland and internationally, adding that Brexit, the economic consequences of the pandemic and the climate and biodiversity crisis are “best faced with a united Ireland economy”.
The paper also calls on the Government to prepare for unity, adding it has a “duty and a constitutional obligation” to do so.
While Taoiseach Micheál Martin created a shared island unit within his department, at the virtual launch of her party’s paper, Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald said more is needed.
“We need now an agreed space, an agreed forum, a citizen’s assembly to ensure that those practical conversations and preparations begin now,” she said.
“There is no excuse for anyone, much less any political leader to bury their head in the sand and to imagine that this issue is going to go away.
“The fact is that we are going to have a referendum on Irish unity, I believe we will win that referendum and win it well but we have to be in a state of preparedness.
“That work needs to start now. Much more is required beyond the ambitions so far of this shared island unit.”
She described the paper as an “invitation for everyone to participate to advance their view, ideas also concerns or fears for us to collectively map out the opportunities that Irish unity can afford”.