Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Fears young people will ‘force United Ireland’ because they ‘want return to EU’

Young people in Northern Ireland will force the territory to unite with the Irish Republic, a writer and campaigner has argued.

Emma DeSouza, writing in the Guardian, said so-called “peace babies” aged 18-24 who grew up under the Good Friday Agreement want change outside the United Kingdom.

She pointed to polling and survey results which show the vast majority of the younger generation do not align themselves with unionism.

The writer quoted young activists from Northern Ireland who pointed to disillusionment over Brexit, the collapse of power-sharing at Stormont and the “Troubles” legacy bill as reasons against the union.

Ellie-Jo Taylor, 19, said: “We are campaigning for our future, for a return to the European Union within a united Ireland.”

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The publication’s op-ed comes after DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said this week that he would not see a united Ireland in his lifetime.

But he accused “complacent” British governments of neglecting Northern Ireland and jeopardising its future in Britain.

Sir Jeffrey asked: “Where is our government making the case for the Union?”

His comments came after Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would see the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland unite in his lifetime.

In an interview with RTÉ, Mr Varadkar said: “I believe we are on the path to unification. I believe there will be a united Ireland in my lifetime.”

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He added: “In that united Ireland there is going to be a minority, roughly a million people, who are British and you judge the success and the quality of a country by the way it treats its minorities. And that’s something we are going to have to think about.”

Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris responded, saying the comments were unhelpful given ongoing talks to restore power-sharing in the territory.

Northern Ireland’s devolved executive and assembly collapsed in January 2017 because of ongoing disagreements between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

DUP MP Ian Paisley told the Belfast Telegraph back in June that the chances of Stormont returning by the autumn were “unlikely”, warning a return to power-sharing could be an “Ice Age away”.

The DUP has been blocking power-sharing for more than a year in protest at the internal UK trade barriers created by Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

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Sir Jeffrey said today (Thursday, October 26) “significant gaps” still remain between the British Government and the DUP in talks over the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Ms DeSouza argued issues such as climate change, human rights, education and mental health matter more to Northern Ireland’s “peace babies” than the union.

She argued the DUP has “enabled a stasis” in which Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly has been non-operational for 70 percent of the past six and a half years and has repeatedly blocked attempts for a more devolved government.

The campaigner added: “This has forced many younger people to advocate for constitutional change as it feels like the only route to a functional political system.”

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