Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she believes a referendum on Irish reunification could be held within the next five years.
he was speaking as Sinn Féin is set to become Northern Ireland’s largest party with a Nationalist Prime Minister in Stormont for the first time.
Ms McDonald said the partition had been ‘disastrous’ and there would be constitutional change on the island of Ireland over the next decade.
“We believe that Irish unity is the best plan, the greatest opportunity for all of us who live on this island. The partition was disastrous, led to endless strife and hardship, but it must be done from planned, orderly, democratic and entirely peaceful manner,” she told The News Desk on Talk TV.
“So I would say this, first of all, we have to start planning now for the change that is coming, and that has to involve all of us.”
Asked when she would like to see a referendum in the North and one in the South, McDonald replied within the next decade, adding that she believed they would be possible “within five years.”
“But more importantly, I think the preparation has to start now.”
Counting resumed this morning for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections as there are still a number of seats to be filled. 47 of the 90 seats had been declared by the close of play Friday night.
Sinn Fein currently has 18 seats and also won the battle for the biggest share of the vote with 250,388 first preferences, against 184,002 for the DUP and 116,681 for the Alliance Party.
This means he received 29% first preference votes, compared to 21.3% for the DUP, 13.5% for Alliance, 11.2% for the UUP and 9.1% for the SDLP.
Sinn Fein deputy chair Michelle O’Neill was elected at the first count in central Ulster, with Alliance leader Naomi Long leading the poll in east Belfast. Ms McDonald said it was a ‘huge message of equality and progress’.
Ms McDonald said any changes unionists want to see made to the Northern Ireland protocol will be negotiated between the government in London and the EU institutions.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey was elected at the first count in the Lagan Valley.
After his election, he issued a personal challenge to Boris Johnson to resolve outstanding issues over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol, which unionists oppose as it imposes economic barriers between the region and the rest of the world. UK.
He said: “I recognize that we have our differences, especially when it comes to protocol, but I think we all agree that this is an issue that needs to be resolved and the sooner it will be resolved, the better it will be for all of us.”
Ms McDonald added that Brexit was a “bad idea” and potentially “catastrophic” for Ireland.
“I hate to be the only one to say we told you, but we told them, Brexit was a bad idea and Brexit was potentially catastrophic for Ireland,” she said.