Thursday, 14 March 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Paul Gavan (Sinn Fein)
I wish to raise the issue of Irish unity, particularly in the context of the launch last month of Trade Unionists for a New and United Ireland in the Communications Workers Union. I was delighted to see many colleagues from trade union movement at the launch, members of Sinn Féin, members of the Labour Party, members of other parties of the left and those who are not affiliated to any party. More than 150 trade union activists and officials have signed up to this organisation. They are going to hold a conference on 27 April next to discuss what a new and united Ireland should look like, making sure that we do not make the mistakes of the past, the carnival of reaction unleashed in this country through partition, just as Connolly predicted, which forgot about workers and workers' rights for far too long.It is great to see this initiative take place, which stands in direct contrast with the lack of debate, consultation and thought on a united Ireland across the Houses of the Oireachtas, despite the best efforts of my party colleagues. Brian Feeney put it very well in the Irish Newsyesterday; a Border poll is coming down the line. He was very critical of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for refusing to engage on the issue. If my colleagues in the trade union movement can recognise the need for a debate to begin to plan for a what a new and united Ireland should look like and to engage on the issue on an all-party and no-party basis, surely the Seanad has the wit and the wisdom to engage in that debate. The refusal today of the Government to support a Green Paper on Irish unity is disgraceful. Surely, we must all come together to think about that debate and to provide our input. The Leader is an active trade unionist and will probably want to attend the conference on 27 April at the Communication Workers Union to give the Fine Gael perspective on what workers' rights should be in a new and united Ireland. I look forward to his contribution on the day.