THE Taoiseach has reiterated his belief that putting dates on a potential border poll is not conducive to a United Ireland as the issue runs deeper than that.
The Cork TD was speaking as part of a cross-party and broader debate involving well-known politicians and personalities on the Claire Byrne Live show. Mr Martin said he has created the Shared Island unit to facilitate dialogue between all the various stakeholders.
“Having an immediate poll is not the way to go. We must work the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. I have created this unit to initiate dialogue and to give voice to people with different perspectives. The only way we can bring a divided people together is by agreement. Through this initiative, I want to initiate dialogue and I want to fund projects across the island that will help bring people together.
"We are looking at the broader picture in relation to health, education, and tourism. I have met with the North-South bodies and we are hoping to create more projects for them. We need to adopt the John Hume approach of uniting people and their hearts and minds. There is so much more we can do,” he said.
Mr Martin said his interest in politics initially came about due to the Troubles, but he admitted his earlier views have changed substantially.
“I grew up as a child listening to daily stories about bombs and bullets. I never thought the violence would end. I joined politics because of Northern Ireland.
“I went up to Belfast when I was a young student in UCC. I was a member of Ógra Fianna Fáil at the time and I met every political party. I went back to Cork with a changed perspective. I learned this isn’t about rhetoric and it isn’t about slogans. We had a view down here that was simplistic. We have to build relationships with people to make things happen. I want more voices to be brought to the table,” he added.
Deputy Martin said that while relations with the UK Government have become ‘choppy’ since the referendum on Brexit, he is committed to engaging in constructive dialogue.
“We need the same approach we had with the Good Friday agreement. It needs engagement with all parties. We have to develop a stronger British-Irish relationship post Brexit which Boris Johnson and I have agreed to do. Before we get to a referendum at all there should be substantive engagement and agreement on core issues just like the Good Friday Agreement. That happened through engaging with people on an ongoing basis and being very patient.
“The structures would need to reflect parity of esteem. Putting dates on it is not helpful. Let us work on shared understandings and getting advances on things that matter to people such as the economy, the jobs, their education. We can do this together for the mutual benefit of all,” he added.