SF leader calls for border poll

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams with Gerry McCartney, left, and Jamsie Quinn outside the new Sinn Fein offices. (3010PG29)

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams with Gerry McCartney, left, and Jamsie Quinn outside the new Sinn Fein offices. (3010PG29)

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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was in Derry on Saturday to open the party’s new constituency office at Rath Mór Business Park.

The office is located at the entrance to the business park, off Eastway, and includes larger meeting room facilities.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with people attending Saturday's official opening of the new Sinn Fein offices at Rath Mor. (3010PG32)

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with people attending Saturday's official opening of the new Sinn Fein offices at Rath Mor. (3010PG32)

The launch was also attended by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and invited guests.

Speaking at the opening, Mr Adams called on the British and Irish governments to hold a border poll on the constitutional status of the North.

The Louth TD said it is the next logical step in the peace process. “Sinn Féin wants a border poll. The Good Friday Agreement allows for a border poll. It must be the next step and now is exactly the right time for a debate on ending partition and achieving Irish unity in the context of rebuilding and calibrating the economies of this island into a single island economy in the interests of all our citizens,” he said.

Mr Adams encouraged unionists to take part in the debate around the border poll. “Poverty affects working class unionists in exactly the same way as nationalists.

“Unionism is essentially a conservative political tendency with no real concern to serve the interests of poor or disadvantaged people.

“Many working class unionist communities have been abandoned by the main unionist parties.

“Social justice demands that all citizens whatever their background are treated equally. That means austerity must be resisted,” he said.

Mr Adams also said the referendum on Scottish independence adds weight to calls for a border poll in Ireland. “This is a live issue that has been given added impetus by the referendum decision for Scotland,” he said.

The Sinn Féin leader also called on parties in the Republic to become more involved in the North. “Last weekend the Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin rediscovered a renewed interest in developments in the North. While this is welcome his criticism of the Irish government’s lack of serious engagement on the north was shallow. Fine Gael and Labour are no better on the north or worse than the Fianna Fáil government was. If Dáil parties are genuinely interested in the north then I would invite all of them to organise here. I would also invite them to support a border poll,” he said.

Mr Adams added that if a referendum is called it would require a concerted campaign to convince those opposed to unity. “To secure this means building support so that the Irish and British governments are moved to fulfil their obligations to hold one.

“We will then have to campaign for a YES vote and to persuade the people of the island of Ireland to support unity and the creation of a new Republic. It especially means persuading those, north and south, who don’t want Irish unity that it will be better for them and for their children.

“It also needs a plan, a strategy. We have to demonstrate in practical ways why working as partners and living together as equals on this island is better politically, practically and economically,” the Sinn Fein president said.

He added that a focus on economic issues could help convince those opposed to reunification. “Now is exactly the right time for a debate on ending partition and achieving Irish unity in the context of rebuilding and calibrating the economies of this island into a single island economy in the interests of all our citizens,” he said.