"Partition has been disastrous for Ireland... and for Britain as well," says Mary Lou McDonald
"There's a huge Irish community in Britain and I think we have a basis for a very strong, peaceful orderly relationship, but the preparation needs to start now."
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has once again set the forecast for a potential unified Ireland in future, noting that the separation of the north and south of Ireland in political terms has been "disastrous" for all involved.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (24 May), McDonald provided some context for hosts Richard Madeley and Susanna Reid.
"Bear in mind that when the Northern Irish state was created more than a century ago, it was deliberately engineered to ensure that it would have a forever unionist majority and that is now gone," McDonald began, adding that Sinn Féin is now the largest political party across the entire island of Ireland.
Asked once more about the prospect of a united Ireland, McDonald reiterated her belief that a referendum on the matter will happen before this decade is concluded.
"I believe the constitutional arrangement will change and I believe that we all need to prepare for that," she said.
"I also believe that we shouldn't come at this with the sense of dread or fear or loss; we need to look at this as an incredible democratic opportunity – partition has been disastrous for Ireland. It's been disastrous for Britain as well.
"We have had division, we've had conflict, but we've had now almost a quarter of a century of a very robust peace process and the time is now looming when we bring this journey to its conclusion and [the] end of partition, a reunified Ireland in peace and security, and with the good neighbourly strong relationship with Britain, our next door neighbour.
"And let's face it," McDonald continued, "there's a huge Irish community here in Britain and I think we have a basis for a very strong, peaceful orderly relationship but the preparation needs to start now.
"There will be no prize for anybody burying their head in the sand."
'How long before we have a united Ireland?' - @richardm56
Leader of Sinn Féin @MaryLouMcDonald tells Richard and @susannareid100 that she believes there will be 'referendums on unity in this decade.'
She adds that we need to look at this as a 'democratic opportunity.' pic.twitter.com/qikATyhgw5
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) May 24, 2022
Speaking earlier this month following the Northern Ireland Assembly election, McDonald said that Sinn Féin will continue to push the unification referendum agenda.
"We believe that Irish unity is the best plan, the biggest opportunity for all of us who live on this island. 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 to commence the process already under discussion.
"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.
"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. But much more importantly, I believe that the preparation needs to start now."