While delivering a speech at the opening of the Fine Gael ardfheis, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar expressed his pro-Ireland outlook by saying that he believes the unification of Ireland can happen in his lifetime.
“I believe in the unification of our island and I believe it can happen in my lifetime.”
The Tánaiste went on to add, “We should be proud to say that unification is something we aspire to. It should be part of our mission as a Party to work towards it.”
While stating that the views of unionists must be acknowledged, understood and respected, the Tánaiste said that one group cannot have a veto on Ireland’s future. Varadkar rejected what he described as the crude vision espoused by Sinn Féin, calling it a “cold form of republicanism, socialist, narrow nationalism, protectionist, anti-British, euro-critical, ourselves alone, 50 per cent plus one and nobody else is needed.”
He said that unification must not be the annexation of Northern Ireland but that it must mean something more such as “a new state designed together, a new constitution and one the reflects the diversity of a bi-national or multi-national state in which almost a million people are British. Like the New South Africa, a rainbow nation, not just orange and green.”
Varadkar said that we would have to be willing to change with new titles, shared symbols and how devolution in Northern Ireland would fit into the new arrangements.
Faced with many questions about how a United Ireland would work, Varadkar said that we have a duty to engage with each other and others to find answers to these questions while adding that holding a border poll in the meantime would be premature.
One motion that delegates to the ardfheis will be considering is that Fine Gael should establish a branch in Northern Ireland.