SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood gave an address to the D’Arcy McGee Summer School on Brexit and he made some interesting comments about how Unionist parties view comments on this subject from Nationalist leaders;
I am conscious that unionism’s kneejerk reaction to this kind of language will be naturally defensive and some will automatically assume that I am speaking about some sort of sudden re-unification to avoid Brexit.
Let me be clear – I am not.
Of course my view as an Irish nationalist is that a re-unified Ireland would be better for everyone -but that was my view pre-Brexit too.
However, I still know that the constitutional position will not be changed overnight even in with the upheaval caused by Brexit.
I also know that this change will only ever happen, and will only ever be worth having, if we can convince a significant number of those who hold a British identity in the North that a New Ireland can better provide them with opportunity, fairness and belonging.
That same argument needs to be made to many Northern nationalists too. We have a big job of work to do in order to provide that New Ireland with definition and detail.
That is exactly what we agreed to in the Good Friday Agreement and we’re sticking by it, pre-Brexit and post-Brexit. It was the Irish people, North and South, who made that decision and no Irish political party or organisation holds the authority to change that position.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs