Monday, 26 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
The calls for the conducting of a border poll for Irish reunification have grown considerably in recent times. That has been amplified by the fact the majority in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU. It is gathering momentum and probably more support unity now than ever before. However, surely the purpose of holding a poll is to have a prospect of success. If one is to put the question, one would like it to be successful. I am one of those who would love to see a united Ireland but now is not the time. I was struck recently by the interview given by the leader of Ulster unionism in one of the last interviews of that fine reporter, Tommie Gorman. The leader of Ulster unionism said:
There is a misunderstanding that I am, somehow, a misguided Irish person and actually all I have to do is realise that I'm Irish and not British at all. That is a fundamental misunderstanding that republicans and nationalists have.
If the leader of Ulster unionism believes that, and I believe that she believes it, now is not the time. Now is not the time because we must listen to our brothers and sisters in Northern Ireland and we must appreciate and celebrate diversity. I know we work hard on joint Oireachtas committees in the two Houses. I ask the Leader if there is a role for Seanad Éireann to try to appreciate and partake actively in a listening exercise whereby the leader of Ulster unionism can be convinced that, for many voices of Irish republicanism and nationalism, that is not the case and that we celebrate her diversity. However, she does not believe it, and that is what matters most. We have a job of work at hand before we put any border poll. Now is not the time.