N. Ireland Politics

United Ireland is achievable, says Sinn Féin's Adams

Gerry Adams Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gerry Adams said the Stormont election result had raised the hopes of Irish nationalists

The Northern Ireland Assembly election result has shown nationalists that a goal of Irish unity is achievable, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said.

But republicans needed to persuade unionists that they would have a better future in a united Ireland, he added.

Mr Adams was speaking a week on from what he called a "watershed" election.

The 2 March poll brought an end to Stormont's unionist majority, with nationalists holding an equal number of seats for the first time.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won the most seats, but saw its lead over Sinn Féin cut from 10 seats to one.

'Sense of doabilty'

Mr Adams said that despite the result, unionists still had a majority among the population in Northern Ireland.

"There is still a big onus on us to persuade them that this is how their future would best be developed," he added.

"I don't want to see the unionists in the place that nationalists used to be in.

"We need an entirely new Ireland, we need an Ireland which unionism is comfortable with, that they have an ownership of and that they agree to."

The Sinn Féin leader said last year's Brexit vote had begun to shift opinions on Irish unity.

The UK voted to leave the European Union but, in Northern Ireland, a majority (56%) voted to remain.

"It's not exactly tangible, it's a sense of expectation, a sense of hope, a sense of 'doabilty'," said Mr Adams.

"Ten years ago Scottish independence was a minority occupation for men in kilts.

"Most people in Scotland hadn't really bought into it, but now they have. The same thing is going to happen, in my opinion, for those of us who want Irish unity."

When asked if he now envisaged seeing a united Ireland within his lifetime, the 68-year-old said: "It depends how long I live, but my hope is - yes."

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