Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has revealed his party intends to call for a referendum on Irish unity.
He didn’t say when the call would be made, but it is expected that it will take place next year, as a mark of the centenary of the Easter Rising rebellion in Dublin.
Adams argued that the island was being hampered by having two separate policies on agriculture, health and education. He said: “Partition has retarded and distorted the political, social and economic life of this island.
“Many people now realise that it makes no sense to have two economies, two education systems, two health systems, two tax codes, two currencies on one small island.
“The people of this island, whether urban or rural, from whatever background or tradition, share a common history and our futures are bound together.
“The message of the Proclamation, the symbolism of our national flag and the challenge for republicans today is to unite Orange and Green in equality and mutual respect.
“Sinn Féin is committed to securing, in the time ahead, a referendum on Irish unity so that each and every one of us, working together, can build a new, dynamic country.
“Such a referendum should not be seen as threatening to any section of our community.”
There are numerous events and celebrations planned for 2016, to mark the hundred year anniversary of the Easter Rising rebellion, in which Irish nationalists took control of the General Post Office and declared Ireland an independent republic. The rebellion was quashed by the British Army, and the leaders were executed.
This only increased sympathy for the Irish nationalist cause, and the War of Independence and Civil War followed in the next few years.
Adams said next year’s centenary events “should be a catalyst for a national debate” on unity.