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Fianna Fáil's plans for North-South reunification get cautious welcome from Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin was eager to clarify differences between his party and Sinn Féin.

Updated 6.38pm 

File photo: Irish Water bonus controversy Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL IS planning for the possibility of a united Ireland.

In an interview on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Martin said that part of the plan would be clarifying what state institutions would be shared, and what would be unique to North and South.

Here’s a quick outline of what Fianna Fáil thinks should happen (which they’re compiling in a White Paper):

  • Two parliaments. If there was a united Ireland, would there be two parliaments, one north, one south? “In my view, there would,” Micheal Martin said
  • Education. Martin says there is the potential for an All-Ireland approach. This includes third-level education and research
  • One All-Ireland food safety body
  • One Enterprise Ireland to promote all small business
  • A common corporate tax rate.

Martin said that there was nothing ‘sudden’ about the plan, and that Irish unity had been a part of the Fianna Fáil manifesto since the party’s inception.

It was our idea first

0687 SF Mother and Baby Homes_90504673 Source: Leah Farrell

Martin was equally eager, however, to distance himself from being compared to Sinn Féin, saying it was ‘very different’.

He said that the border polls Sinn Féin have been pushing for were “somewhat divisive and ridiculous”, whereas Fianna Fáil’s actions were being done in a “constructive way”.

Martin said that they wouldn’t go into government with Sinn Féin after the next election because Sinn Féin “was not a democratically run party”.

He said that the lesson from Brexit taught people it was important to be wary of politicians who call for referendums, but aren’t prepared for the outcome.

“In short, there is an obligation on anyone who aspires to Irish unity to form a blueprint and crucially, they’d have to contain the same sets of agreements that were laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.”

He added that he didn’t think a united Ireland would happen quickly, or overnight.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen like some people think like it’s just after a referendum you wake up and you’re in a united Ireland. I think it’s much more revolutionary.

“I think it’s about maintaining and nurturing the three sets of relationships between the British people and the Irish people, between people in the Republic and people in the North, between the unionist and nationalist communities in the North itself – those three pillars are essential to any new dispensation, and central to anything that may happen if a referendum is triggered in the future.”

Belated

Reacting to the proposals, Sinn Féin has said that Fianna Fáil have up until recently discouraged discussion on reunification.

“It is less than two months since Fianna Fáil refused to send a speaker to a united Ireland conference in Dublin, organised by my party, because they said such a debate was ‘premature’,” Matt Carthy MEP said in a statement this evening.

Despite this, Carthy said that advocates for a united Ireland should work together.

“If the comments by Mícheál Martin are a belated recognition of the need for the leaders of political parties which claim to aspire to Irish unity, to develop policies in that regard, it represents welcome progress. I await Fianna Fáil’s ideas and proposals with interest,” he said.

Sinn Féin is vehemently opposed to the policies of Fianna Fáil which destroyed the Irish economy, forced thousands to emigrate, destroyed public services and inflicted huge hardship on working families. However, it is important that all political forces which advocate a United Ireland, co-operate towards that end.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: ‘The Taoiseach is too slow and too mesmerised’: Gerry Adams calls for Brexit clarity

Poll: Do you want to see a united Ireland?

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