‘Civic nationalists’ press Varadkar for Citizen’s Assembly

A letter signed by over 1000 people north and south is calling on Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for a “new conversation” about the constitutional future of the island of Ireland.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 3:29 pm
Republic of Ireland player James McClean signed the letter. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

The letter, published in the Irish Times on Monday, was signed by Londonderry-born footballer James McClean, Belfast boxer Michael Conlan and journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney. Two-thirds of signatories were based in the south.

The correspondence also asks for the formation of a Citizens’ Assembly to reflect “the views of citizens North and South”, and welcomes the discussions it says are taking place among unionists about their future place on the island.

The letter was organised by the ‘Ireland’s Future’ group which organised the ‘Beyond Brexit – The Future of Ireland’ attended by more than 1,500 people in Belfast in January.

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It has also written twice before to Mr Varadkar, the first time in December 2017, when more than 200 representatives of “civic nationalism” signed an open letter urging him to “give voice” to concerns around Brexit, the collapse of power-sharing at Stormont and what it claimed was the undermining of rights.

The full list of signatories of the latest letter were published in the Irish Times.

It said that in the context of the “flux” created by Brexit and subsequent conversations about the reunification of Ireland, a majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

“It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the democratic wishes and rights of Irish citizens are respected and protected, regardless of where they live on the island,” the letter stated.

“Let’s have a discussion on how this can be achieved. We would urge you to start this process, based on the vision of democratic change set out in the Good Friday [Belfast] agreement. Start planning now.”