Fine Gael should establish a Northern Irish branch as part of party's unification goal, says Varadkar
Varadkar said he believes the unification of the island of Ireland could happen in his lifetime.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that Fine Gael should establish a Northern Ireland branch as part of its mission to work towards Irish unification.
He made the comments on Tuesday evening at the party’s Ard Fheis in which he spoke largely about Northern Ireland.
He said: "The assembly elections and the census tell us that in Northern Ireland, there is no majority anymore.
"There are three minorities, one that defines itself as British and unionist, another as Irish and nationalist and a third and growing middle ground - many born since the Good Friday Agreement - who do not wish to be defined in this way. They see themselves as both British and Irish or perhaps simply Northern Irish."
Varadkar said he believes in the unification of the island of Ireland and that he believes it could happen in his lifetime.
He said: “It means the unification of the people of our island as well as the territory of Ireland and is a legitimate political aspiration.
“The views of unionists must be acknowledged, understood and respected but no one group can have a veto on Ireland’s future.
“We should be proud to say that unification is something that we aspire to. It should be part of our mission as a party to work towards it and we can do so in many ways."
As part of this, the Tánaiste said that he believes Fine Gael should “establish a branch in Northern Ireland with the same status as a constituency organisation in our rules”.
He added: “Not with a view to contesting elections, but with a view to recruiting members, building networks with like-minded people, including those in other parties.
“We need to reach out to all sides and we need a presence on the ground to do so.”
Speaking of Fine Gael's vision for unification, Varadkar said: "Unification must not be the annexation of Northern Ireland. It means something more, a new state co-designed together - a new constitution and one that reflects the diversity of a bi-national or multi-national state... A rainbow nation not just orange and green.
"We have to be willing to consider what we'd be willing to change. New titles, shared symbols... a new Senate perhaps."