Northern Ireland news

Prepare for Irish unity poll, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald says in Easter address

Mary Lou McDonald gives the party's Easter online address
Mairead Holland

SINN Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has said both the Irish and British governments must prepare for a referendum on Irish unity.

In an address for the party's online Easter commemoration yesterday, she said a united Ireland presents an "exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different and something better than anything that has gone before".

Republican groups marked the 105th anniversary of the 1916 Rising yesterday either with online speeches or small symbolic events due to Covid restrictions.

Republican Sinn Féin held a series of wreath-laying ceremonies at graves in Co Derry, while other events took place in Lurgan in north Armagh and Co Fermanagh.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) held similar ceremonies at gravesides including Milltown in Belfast and Strabane in Co Tyrone.

Saoradh posted an online commemoration video while its Belfast branch held a small wreath-laying at Milltown Cemetery on Saturday.

A wreath-laying ceremony is also expected to take place in Derry today.

During the Sinn Féin address, Ms McDonald said the people of Ireland during a pandemic "again find ourselves at a crossroads".

"In a time of lives lost and lives disrupted, the failed ways of the old Ireland have been exposed like never before," she said.

"And as we look forward together - as we seek change - Irish unity comes into focus.

"A century on from partition, people wake up every morning and know that the divided Ireland of 2021 doesn’t work for them or their families."

She said the task of bringing about real change for workers and families is linked "inextricably" to the goal of reunifying the country.

"The politics of a new Ireland has come of age. The grand vision of Pearse and Connolly is renewed. Irish unity means positive change for us all. Not only is it achievable, it is necessary," she said.

"The practical challenges posed by Covid-19 and Brexit make this apparent.

"It would be unforgivable to emerge from this pandemic and not seize the opportunity to prepare for unity, for our new Ireland."

Meanwhile, Michael Kelly of the IRSP said in an online address that it sent its "unwavering support" to the Yes for Unity campaign, adding that calls for a border poll were gaining momentum.

He added that it was a revolutionary organisation and will continue to explore "all revolutionary avenues".

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