Sinn Féin McDonald: Time to look beyond Brexit and partition

With time running out to avert a disastrous crash Brexit, McDonald called for an all-Ireland conversation and a forum to plan for a referendum on Irish unity. 

There is a growing consensus in Ireland and Europe that British Prime Minister Theresa May is not sincere about negotiating a deal with the European Union, and probably cannot be trusted to honour one in any event.

Irish confidence in May's ability to secure a deal is at an all-time low after she reneged on the critical 'backstop' element, designed to prevent a remilitarisation of Britain's border through Ireland. That move runs contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and brought back grim accusations by Sinn Féin of Tory 'bad faith' and 'dishonour'.

May suffered yet another humiliating setback this week when MPs failed to back her in a near identical vote, amid allegations of conspiracy and ineptitude.

Speaking after May visited Belfast last week to address business figures, Sinn Fein president, Mary Lou McDonald blasted the British Prime Minister who she said had "come here empty handed with the same old rhetoric with no plan, no credibility and frankly no honour.

Brexit, said McDonald “threatens to affect the entire constitutional and political framework that accommodates the current stability and beds down the peace process," she said.

McDonald also defended Sinn Féin's refusal to take its seven seats in Westminster, an abstentionist policy which dates back to the party’s inception in 1905. "We have no business in your parliament... I've watched the sometimes very strange and exotic antics at Westminster throughout this whole Brexit process," she said.

McDonald called for an all-Ireland conversation and a forum to plan for a referendum on Irish unity. "Ireland did not consent to

Brexit. - she said - We do not consent to a hard border. We believe that the 'backstop' contained within the withdrawal agreement is a vital insurance policy to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and must be upheld. It is the bare minimum that is required. However, it is time to look beyond Brexit and beyond partition. If the border cannot be mitigated, it must be removed. The demand for Irish unity is growing. Ireland north and south is changing. Now is the time to look the future."