Frances Black: Planning for Irish unity referendum has to start now

Senator Frances Black says it’s now time to start planning for a referendum on Irish unity.

The independent politician is the chair of the Ireland’s Future group.

The group is aimed at promoting a unity referendum in the Republic and the North, as well as ‘advancing the arguments which will win that referendum’.

Speaking on Moncrieff today, Senator Black said they’re a “group of citizens” who’ve come together to start planning and preparing – as they believe a vote is going to happen.

Frances Black: ‘Now’s the time’ to start planning for Irish unity referendum

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She observed: “We’re guided by the values of the Good Friday Agreement… we’re dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, equality and fostering mutual respect between all views and traditions.

“We’re not a political party – we’re not affiliated to any political party. We welcome participation from people of all political persuasions.”

She pointed out that Brexit has dramatically changed the situation on the island.

Senator Black said they’ve already spoken with the Irish Government, as well as the Northern Irish parties such as the SDLP, Alliance and Sinn Féin.

However, she stressed that they’d love to unionists such as the DUP ‘to come on board’, as their voice is ‘really, really important’ when discussing the issues.

The senator said Ireland’s Future wants to see an all-island citizens’ assembly on the unity issue, as well as encourage discussions about the benefits of an “all-island approach to issues such as health, education, human rights and the economy”.

She suggested the conversations are “already happening” around kitchen tables and elsewhere.

She told Sean: “All we’re trying to do is encourage more [conversation].

“A referendum, no doubt about it, at some point is going to happen – the issue of referendums, both north and south, is provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.

“We must plan and prepare for a referendum and be able to present the research to people, so they can make their informed decisions.”

She noted that former DUP leader Peter Robinson has urged unionists to plan for a referendum and build up their arguments for staying in the UK.

For now, however, Senator Black said all her group wants to do is ‘have the conversation’ about unity.

Main image: File photo of Frances Black. Photo: RollingNews.ie