Monday, 21 June 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I find it hard to believe that any unionist would be shocked that the leader of Fine Gael aspires to a united Ireland. It is certainly not the first time the Tánaiste or others in the party have said so. He did so only months ago on a well publicised edition of the "Claire Byrne Live" programme.
A united Ireland is a legitimate political aspiration, which is enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement for which 94% of us in the South voted. What is shocking is the idea that a political party can only talk about or aspire to a united Ireland if it supports it at any cost. Whether it was intended or not, the message of some of the commentators last week was that only one party in the South can talk about this. One can aspire to the peaceful unification of our Ireland by consent in the future if one is willing to support the devastation caused by force in the past and continues to glorify the division and the hurt that that continues to cause. That is wrong and we need to watch it because, in my view, supporting or pursuing a united Ireland at any cost was never true republicanism. It is a particularly bizarre position to take when there is a small group of loyalists in the North who are talking, in a similar way today, about removing the protocol at any cost. There are lots of identities, views and experiences on this island and all must be respected in this debate. Why have some commentators in the South put us in silos when a growing majority in the North is moving out of those silos? The way to build an inclusive shared island is not to exclude anybody from the process.