8 December 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Cork based MEP Billy Kelleher to table “substantive motion” at FF Ard Fheis to set party agenda
“Fianna Fáil must be unapologetic in its commitment to delivering a shared, united Ireland, and must not shirk its responsibilities to prepare for a referendum on its creation,” says Fianna Fáil MEP Billy.
Kelleher was commenting a day after the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty which established the Irish Free State and partitioned the island.
“We are now into the second century of partition on this island. Our party was founded to give a democratic voice and platform to the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who opposed partition, and the other restrictions imposed on the Irish people because of the Treaty.
“While I joined Fianna Fáil for a myriad of reasons in the 1980s, a commitment to the peaceful reunification of the island and peoples on this island was high on my agenda.
“The 1998 Good Friday Agreement referenda provided the peaceful, democratic framework to end partition on this island. No one, especially our party, should be afraid of fulfilling the legitimate aspirations now enshrined in that agreement.
“From speaking to young people across Ireland in recent months, I’m confident that they too share that commitment.
“The Government’s Shared Island Unit is an important development. It’s only right and proper that we put our money where our mouth is and support important projects and engagements across the island.
“However, the debate around a United Ireland is a political and constitutional issue. Fianna Fáil is a progressive, republican party. We need to be in the centre of this debate, putting forward our own vision of what a shared, united Ireland might look like.
“The Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis will convene in late spring 2022, and I will table a substantive motion, through the democratic structures of our movement, recommitting us to the objective of Irish unity and setting out the steps our party needs to take to prepare for this reality.
“Next week, I will write to members in my constituency of Ireland South seeking their views as to what my motion should contain.
“We have a duty to be ready for a referendum on a United Ireland. It could come at any point. The Irish Government will not set the date – it will be announced and set by the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and with the Tory Party set to be in power for a number of years to come, we cannot be sure a decision of this nature will not be used for overt electoral reasons.
“As such, we need to have answers to the questions citizens, north and south, will legitimately ask us when we ask them to vote yes, and that requires our party to get involved, get active and get ready” concluded Kelleher.