Gerry Adams: talk of Irish unity more prevalent since Brexit vote

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and the party's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and the party's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
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The idea of Irish unity has become more prevalent since Britain decided to leave the European Union, Gerry Adams has said.

Mr Adams said that since Brexit people on the island of Ireland have been reminded of the benefits of the last 20 years without a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“The consequence of Brexit is that people have just been reminded that for the last 20 years we have just practically had a single island economy, the border has ceased to be the intrusive, in your face, structure - it is still there of course and we want rid of it in any form - but people have just been reminded how good that has been.

“I’m not saying there is a direct correlation between Brexit and Irish unity, and in fact I think those of us who want a united Ireland need to be very careful that we are not accused of trying to exploit Brexit.

“But I just think the notion of Irish unity, in terms of public debate, is now much more prevalent.

“We want to see a referendum on Irish unity as part of the Good Friday Agreement. We are going to continue to campaign for that and we also want to win that.”

The outgoing Sinn Fein leader said however that he does not believe a united Ireland is inevitable.

“You have to work for it and you have to convince people. But we now have a very peaceful and democratic way of achieving it,” he said.

Mr Adams added: “That means persuading people that the best way for all of us on this island is if we govern ourselves. Why do we want English people to govern us? Why do we want anybody but ourselves to govern us?”

He said that at the “very core” of Irish unity was “uniting orange and green.”

“(It’s) about harmony and peace between those two big traditions. And as we become more multicultural it is also about making space for all of those other folks out there who wouldn’t be part of the orange and green tradition. It is about trying to build a tolerant, respectful, citizens based, rights centred society,” said Mr Adams.