Sinn Féin urges unity referendum within five years

Deputy leader Michelle O’Neill says ‘Brexit exposes undemocratic nature of partition’

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has renewed her party’s call for an Irish unity referendum within five years.

Addressing republicans at an Easter commemoration in Belfast’s Milltown cemetery, she said: “Ending partition has now taken on a new dynamic because of Brexit . . . Because Brexit exposes the undemocratic nature of partition. Sinn Féin believes there should be a referendum vote on Irish unity within the next five years.”

Her speech also touched on the Belfast Agreement, which marks its 20th anniversary this month, and the current Stormont impasse.

She said republicans had engaged in political talks for more than a year and repeated criticisms of the DUP for walking away.


"The leadership of both parties reached a fair and balanced accommodation – a draft agreement – which we felt could address our concerns, and provide a basis to restore the Executive without further delay," she said. "However, Arlene Foster and the DUP leadership failed to deliver on this and chose to withdraw from the talks and collapse the process. For now, they are under no pressure from the British government to move, because Theresa May is in hock to the DUP. It's no surprise the British government has put its self-interest before ours. But . . . We are not going away."

Northern Ireland has been without a government since January 2017.

Ms O’Neill also spoke about the recent violence in Palestine and called for the Irish Government to expel the Israeli ambassador.

“So the Taoiseach should send the Israeli ambassador home and move immediately to recognise the state of Palestine.” – PA