A member of the Irish republican party Sinn Fein says Northern Ireland is on an irreversible journey toward reunification with the Republic of Ireland and independence from Britain.
“I think there is an irreversible journey towards a united Ireland and the end of the partition,” Pat Sheehan told Press TV in an exclusive interview, noting that Sinn Fein is at the very front of that movement.
Sheehan, who won a seat for his party in the western Belfast region, said the election results showed that Sinn Fein is the single biggest party in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein secured 27 seats in the 90-seat legislature in the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, ending a chain of victories for pro-UK unionist parties, which have been the largest in government since Northern Ireland was formed in 1921.
“Opinion polls over the last couple of years have shown that Sinn Fein is the biggest party in the south [as well] and that there is a desire in the south in particular for the reunification of the country,” he said.
Sheehan said they do not want a referendum similar to the Brexit, where people did not know what they were voting for.
He predicted that a referendum on the reunification of Ireland will take place this decade, saying that the members of his political party want all the facts on the table before a referendum takes place.
“We don’t want a new Ireland where people are reluctant to be in it,” he stated. “We want everybody to be comfortable, in a new nation that is going to develop over the next number of years.”
“No one was predicting a year before the fall of apartheid that it was gonna happen. Nobody was predicting the fall of the Berlin Wall a year before it happened,” he argued, adding that he was sure the same will happen with regard to the reunification of Ireland.
Last week, Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill hailed a “new era” for Northern Ireland as her party became the first nationalist party to win a lion's share of the seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly in its 101-year history.
“It’s a defining moment for our politics and for our people. Today ushers in a new era which I believe presents us all with an opportunity to reimagine relationships in this society on the basis of fairness, on the basis of equality, and on the basis of social justice, irrespective of religious or social backgrounds,” O’Neill said.
The ultimate goal of Sinn Fein is to detach Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and make it one country with the Republic of Ireland.
Sinn Fein has long been linked to the Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary group that launched a guerrilla campaign against the British Army and loyalist forces in an attempt to achieve Northern Ireland’s independence from the UK during decades of unrest.
Since the 1998 peace agreement that put an end to decades of Catholic-Protestant conflict, a unionist party has held the role of Northern Ireland’s first minister.
In a power-sharing system established by that agreement, the posts of first minister and deputy first minister are split between the biggest unionist party and the largest nationalist one.
For any government to function in Northern Ireland, which operates under a system of mandatory coalition, both posts must be filled. However, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has already suggested it might not serve under a Sinn Fein first minister.