Mary Lou McDonald believes United Ireland referendum possible within a "five year timeframe" 2 months ago

Mary Lou McDonald believes United Ireland referendum possible within a "five year timeframe"

She also said the preparation for such a referendum "needs to start now".

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she believes it's possible that a referendum on the reunification of Ireland could take place within a "five year timeframe".

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The comments come as the party won the most first preference votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election, putting it on the track to becoming the largest party in Stormont.

In an interview with TalkTV on Friday, McDonald was asked if Sinn Féin will now start to push for a reunification referendum.

She said the party would, adding:

"We believe that Irish unity is the best plan, the biggest opportunity for all of us who live on this island.

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"Partition has been disastrous, led to conflict and no end of hardship."

However, McDonald said that a referendum of this sort would need to be done in a "planned, orderly, democratic and entirely peaceful" way, with plans commencing for it "now".

"That has to involve all of us and we believe it needs to be led by the Government in Dublin in the first instance," she stated.

The Sinn Féin leader was then asked when she would want the referendum to be held.

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"I believe that we are going to see these referendums, and there will have to be two bear in mind in north and south, in the coming years.

"Certainly within this decade, this decade of opportunity.

"We are going to see constitutional change on the island of Ireland.

"I believe that the referendum would be possible within a five year timeframe.

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"But much more importantly, I believe that the preparation needs to start now.

"There will be no prize for anyone who buried their head in the sand or who allowed even the prospect of a disorderly reunification process.

"We saw Brexit disorder, lack of planning, lack of understanding.

"We are not going to repeat those mistakes on the island of Ireland."

You can watch McDonald make the comments below.

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Main image via Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie