Posted By: June 06, 2016

Devolution in north could be a future structure says Sinn Féin strategy leader

Brian Campbell. Irish News (Belfast). Monday, June 6, 2016
SINN FEIN appears to have adjusted its vision for a united Ireland, with a party MEP suggesting devolution in the north could be accepted as part of a “transitional” all-Ireland structure in the future.

Matt Carthy, head of the party’s United Ireland strategy group, was speaking at a conference in the Corrymeela peace and reconciliation centre in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, on Saturday.

The Co Monaghan-based MEP for the Midlands North West constituency said that if Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23, there would be “a democratic imperative to allow people in Ireland to vote on Irish unity”.

The event also featured DUP and UUP speakers.

Mr Carthy said that unionists in the north “had nothing to fear from Irish unity” and said that republicans needed to be “open, imaginative and accommodating in our approach to bringing about a united Ireland”.

“I think we need to able to consider transitional arrangements which could perhaps mean continued devolution to Belfast within an all-Ireland structure,” he said, adding that “the historical trajectory is for the coming together of Orange and green”.

“To those who say that this will not happen, it is worth noting that it is only a few years since the idea of the DUP and Sinn Féin being in government together would have been regarded as absurd. Yet this has happened.”

Commentators on social media were quick to point out that Mr Carthy’s proposition wasn’t “a million miles from Eire Nua”, referring to the “New Ireland” envisioned by the late Republican Sinn Féin leader Ruairi Ó Brádaigh.

Ó Brádaigh’s vision was for a federal Irish state with parliaments for the four provinces.

Another comment on social media noted that Mr Carthy’s idea “isn’t bad, but SF leadership had always rubbished it because it came from Ruairi Ó Brádaigh”.

Yet last year Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that a future united Ireland might not be the version “traditionally envisaged”.

In a tweet regarding his statement, Mr Carthy used the hashtag #PartitionCosts, relating to his point that “the financial crash and its aftermath has politically educated an entire generation of people in Ireland… there is now an urgency among many young and not so young people to confront the shibboleths, hypocrisy and cant of the past and to build a much more open, progressive and equal society”.

“The only type of united Ireland that interests me in is one that is agreed, inclusive, pluralist and which is constructed by all our citizens, from whatever background,” he said.

He went on to say that, in any referendum on a united Ireland, “we would seek to convince people of the economic, social and political potential of