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10th Feb 2024

There will be united Ireland referendum by 2030, says Mary Lou McDonald

Simon Kelly

united ireland

“There’s an awful lot of work to be done.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that a referendum on a united Ireland will happen before 2030.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, the president of the Irish opposition party said that while there is still “a lot of work to be done”, she firmly believes that a referendum on the subject will take place “in this decade.”

In a conversation with Kay Burley, Ms McDonald said: “It’s my job and the job of people like me who believe in reunification to convince, to win hearts and minds and to convince people of that opportunity – part of which will be really consolidating our relationship with Britain as our next door neighbour and good friend.”

During the interview, McDonald referred to the Good Friday Agreement, highlighting that, under its terms, there is a pathway for a reunification poll to be held in Northern Ireland.

“There is a provision for border polls to adjudicate whether the union with Britain continues or whether we reunify,” said the Sinn Féin president.

There will be united Ireland referendum by 2030, says Mary Lou McDonald

The Agreement, which was signed in 1998, states that if it “appears likely” that a “majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”, then a vote would be sanctioned.

Since Brexit, the political conversation around a united Ireland has become louder, and Sinn Féin have been vocal about bringing the issue to the people in recent years.

“I firmly and passionately believe that our best opportunities are when we are united, economically, socially, politically,” McDonald added, mentioning the changing political landscape in the form of Michelle O’Neill becoming the first Sinn Féin first minister in the North over the weekend.

“I don’t mean that it’s happening next week or next month,” said McDonald.

“I’ve said consistently to the government in Dublin that they really need to take possession of this conversation that’s now under way right across Ireland.

“They need to give it a structure and a place and of course it has to be inclusive – we want to hear from every voice, including those for whom reunification would not be their first option – those who go out and campaign for the union.”

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