We should have right to decide our own destiny

A RETURN TO THE PAST... a new frontier in Ireland, says Elisha McCallion, would be catastrophic for the island.
A RETURN TO THE PAST... a new frontier in Ireland, says Elisha McCallion, would be catastrophic for the island.

Derry MP Elisha McCallion says British government’s Brexit plans lack clarity and certainty

The first casualty of the Brexit debacle was clarity and, judging by last week’s proposals from the British Government, that remains the case.

The papers from Downing Street have done absolutely nothing to provide clarity about the future constitutional relationships on this island and with our neighbours in Britain.

And, whether you are nationalist, republican, loyalist, unionist or none of the above, that uncertainty is a source of huge frustration.

We all want to know, insofar as is possible, what the future may hold for ourselves and our children.

We want to know that the rights and freedoms we enjoy will be protected and built on in the years to come.

We want to know that political leaders are taking decisions based on what is best, socially and economically, not on what appeals to a xenophobic and reactionist rump within the extreme right-wing of the Tory Party.

Unfortunately, nothing that has emerged in the 14 months since the European Referendum has done anything to lift that fog of uncertainty.

We still don’t know what the post-Brexit world will look like.

The only thing that has become crystal clear over that period of time is that the British Government, and the Brexiteers who are recklessly dragging us down this path against our will, don’t know what it will look like either.

But what almost observers agree on is that a hard Tory Brexit will be disastrous for the island of Ireland.

A new frontier in Ireland, an end to free trade, and European subsidies spells catastrophe for an island that has benefited so much from membership of the European Union.

With a British Government, unconditionally supported by the DUP, unable or unwilling to produce clear and credible proposals for the future, there is an onus on those of us who advocate a different, more progressive vision, to do so.

Of course, Sinn Féin has always advocated that a new and reunified Ireland is the best way to protect the economic and social interests of all citizens.

But we’re not the only party on this island to do so.

It has also been the consistent position of every Irish Government since partition.

The difference is that Sinn Féin has set out our vision. We have tabled proposals as to how a new Ireland can be created and sustained.

Sinn Féin wants to build a genuinely new Republic where all citizens are cherished and protected; where all traditions, including the British and unionist traditions, are valued and respected as part of our shared identity.

We want a prosperous Republic and independent studies have already concluded that the island’s economy would benefit to the tune of €35billion through reunification.

Of course, Sinn Féin accepts that it is up to us to convince unionists of the merits of a new Ireland and we are confident that we have the economic, social and political arguments to do so.

We are convinced that no truly dispassionate and independent analysis of the case can come to any other conclusion than reunification as the best way forward for all our citizens.

What is required now is for those many other advocates for unification to join the debate.

There should be no more standing on the side-lines. There should be no more putting off the inevitable. No more lip service.

In these uncertain political times, there is a responsibility on all parties, on all leaders who say they believe in unification, to start doing something about it.

Ireland should not be forced to accept the disastrous consequences of Brexit without even having the chance to democratically choose a different path through a poll on Irish unity.

One way or another, change is coming to this island. Why should our citizens be denied the right to have their say on what that change looks like?

And why should their political representatives acquiesce to that clear and unacceptable democratic deficit by refusing to support a referendum on unity?

We all should have the ability to choose the best future for ourselves, our families and our communities.

We all should expect our political leaders to act in the best interests of the citizens they represent.

We all should have the right to decide our own destiny.