Mary Lou McDonald says there will be a united Ireland "this decade" 10 months ago

Mary Lou McDonald says there will be a united Ireland "this decade"

"I believe that we can have our referendum, win it and win it well."

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said there will be a united Ireland within the next ten years, calling it the "decade of opportunity".

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Sinn Féin has faced criticism in recent days after a former student activist was subject to intense party pressure after criticising a tweet by Brian Stanley, leading to party representatives contacting her to apologise for her treatment.

Christine O'Mahony, a member of UCD Ógra Sinn Féin, resigned from the party after a party member called to her house and told her to delete critical tweets about the party.

Speaking on Owen Jones's podcast on Wednesday, McDonald was asked how far away is a united Ireland and questioned on some of the obstacles to Irish reunification.

"We'll do [a united Ireland] in the next decade," she said.

"We'll do it in this decade actually, this is the decade of opportunity. I was saying we've no Ard Fheis, no party conference this year sadly but the last time November 2019 and I set it out there in my speech to our party delegates.

"I believe that we can have our referendum. Win it and win it well in the course of this decade and it's my job as the leader of Sinn Féin, with my colleagues and with wider society, to navigate us to that certain and safe shore."

Last month, Sinn Féin launched a new policy paper titled 'The Economic Benefits of a United Ireland’ which outlined the party's belief that a united Ireland would offer more to all of its citizens.

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McDonald said that she understood the concerns some unionists in Northern Ireland would have regarding a reunification with the south.

"Not alone do we have unionist citizens, we have citizens who are British" she said.

"They're British today, they'll be British over Christmas and into the new year. They're British in a partitioned Ireland and they will be British in a united Ireland."

She added: "I would say to our unionist friends, be part of this conversation. I absolutely respect the fact that unionists themselves can articulate their needs, their ideas and concerns around a reunified Ireland much better than I can as an Irish republican woman.

"So I think we need to make space for that conversation. I think we need to acknowledge each other and appreciate each other.

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"I think the most reassuring thing I can say as the leader of Sinn Féin. Irish reunification isn't just a Sinn Féin thing... this is a national project and it belongs to everybody. Everybody's view, everybody's perception, everybody's ideas have to go into that melting pot."