For the first time since the creation of Northern Ireland a century ago, the nationalist Sinn Feinformer political arm of the already inactive GONNAis emerging as the winner of the regional elections this Thursday, which will give a boost to the historic objective of unifying the island of Ireland, the Northern Irish Minister of Finance assures EFE, ConorMurphy.
“The importance of the question of constitutional status in Ireland is always enormous because our country was unfairly divided a hundred years ago and we are still suffering the consequences of that partition”, recalls the Republican leader at the end of a campaign event in Belfast together with the party leader in the British province, Michelle O’Neill .
The victory given by the polls would lead Sinn Féin to later present O’Neill to the post of chief minister, although it must have the approval of the majority so far Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) -if he comes second- to share the autonomous government with his election of deputy chief minister, as established in the peace agreement of the Good Friday (1998).
Murphy: “The overwhelming majority of people across Ireland want reunification”
“We as a party have always wanted that. The overwhelming majority of people across Ireland want reunification. What we want is for the governments of Dublin Y London start planning in a structured way how it will be carried out,” says Murphy, 59, who, like many of his generation, was a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Like so many others, he also traded weapons for urns, after being sentenced in 1982 to five years in prisonand now he is again contesting elections for the Northern Irish Assembly, where, he says, issues “related to health, education or the cost of living” are decided.
Unionism loses power
“Of course, the unification and the constitutional future of the country is always the backdrop in all elections. Now the balance of power has changed, the unionist majority that ensured the union (with the British crown) in the north has disappeared” celebrates Murphy.
He doesn’t want to talk about dates, though Mary Lou McDonaldthe leader of Sinn Féin in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after succeeding the historic Gerry Adamsassured last year that there will be a “border” referendum during the next decade.
The call for a consultation, in which the electorate from the north and south of the island would vote, depends on the British Government, which has already warned that the demographic or political circumstances, among others, for it, do not yet exist.
Murphy, cautious, emphasizes that the main thing is to “prepare the way in the opposite way” to what London did with the referendum of the Brexit “in Great Britain” in 2016, when the “citizens voted without knowing what they were voting for”.
Brexit has brought the controversial protocol to the region, an instrument designed by London and Brussels to check the goods that arrive from Britain and prevent the uncontrolled entry of products into the European community market, while preventing a hard border between the two Irelands, key to the peace process.
Brexit promotes the reunification of Ireland
However, this solution has raised political tensions, especially in the unionist-protestant communitywhich sees its position in the United Kingdom in danger when the nationalists wave the flag of unification.
For this reason, the DUP caused the fall of the power-sharing Executive last February and has stressed that it will not participate in it after these elections if the talks between London and Brussels do not lead to the elimination of the protocol, which would plunge the region into his umpteenth crisis.
Murphy: “Those who are causing instability in the institutions are the unionists”
According to Murphy, the ball is in the court of the Protestant ultra-conservative party led by Jeffrey Donaldson. “It depends on the unionists. Those who are causing instability in the institutions are the unionists, who refuse to compromise to say whether or not they will return to the institutions. In our opinion, that only harms the people we represent,” says the Republican leader, who lost the Finance portfolio after the collapse of the Government.
Meanwhile, he adds, only London and Brussels can solve the issue of the protocol, an instrument designed to “undo the damage caused by Brexit” and deal with the fact that “the British government took us out of Europe against our democratic wishes.”