Gerry Kelly - Countdown is on to a united Ireland

A republican parade makes its way along the Falls Road on Easter Sunday

A republican parade makes its way along the Falls Road on Easter Sunday

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly has used an Easter Rising speech to claim that the countdown is on to a united Ireland.

Speaking at an Easter Rising event in Carrickmore, County Tyrone on Sunday, the North Belfast MLA made the bold claim which will invite scorn from unionists.

Gerry Adams is embraced by a member of the public during the Easter Rising parade on the Falls Road

Gerry Adams is embraced by a member of the public during the Easter Rising parade on the Falls Road

Mr Kelly did however admit that there is “much work to do” to persuade unionists that they would feel welcome in a united Ireland.

He said: “The 1916 Easter Rising had a global effect which has inspired many successful national liberation struggles around the world during the last 100 years.

“It lit a fire which is still burning bright in the hearts of all Irish Republicans as we move ever closer to achieving a united Ireland.

“Across Ireland now Sinn Féin are stronger than we have ever been in our history.

“Irish politics is undergoing its biggest shake-up since partition. We are at the core of that change.

“Our goal as Irish republicans is an Irish unity that is inclusive, that unionists will feel welcome in, that they are a part of.

“There is much work to do. But we believe that we are in the countdown to a United Ireland. We believe that together we can make huge progress and truly transform society on this island forever.”