PEOPLE in Strabane and Lifford are to be given their say on whether or not they would like to see a united Ireland.
This ‘simulated border poll,’ due to begin next month, will see a door-to-door canvass on five separate dates in November and December, with a view to encouraging constructive debate on Irish reunification.
Organised by Strabane IRSP through its Yes For Unity campaign and supported by Sinn Féin, the simulation will see people asked a number of questions including, “Do you support a united Ireland” and “Do you support a referendum to end partition?”
The canvass will follow a public talk and debate at Strabane Library entitled, ‘Building for a Socialist Ireland’.
“The event will cover the themes of class, demographics, border polls and the ending of partition,” local IRSP member, Michael McLaughlin explained.
“The idea behind the public talk and debate, followed by a simulated border poll, is to collect data identifying the core issues to develop a strategy to win a future referendum. We need to evolve an island wide network of a well drilled army of activists with the capacity to engage on the doorsteps and win the debate.
“Yes For Unity would be delighted to host republicans and socialists from all over Ireland during the simulated border poll in Strabane and Lifford. It’s important that those who are planning to fight the Border Poll on the streets of the entire island come and engage on the doorsteps, we believe this is a good opportunity to do this.”
The provision of a border poll on Irish reunification is enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.
Sinn Féin has already called for a unity referendum within the next five years. However, in the event of a no deal Brexit, the party is demanding that such a poll is immediately triggered.
Mr McLaughlin continued, “YES For Unity will not sit idly by and wait for a British minister to allow us our right to self-determination. We are committed to building a grass roots movement on the streets that has the power to drive the agenda for ending partition, not in the elected chambers or shadowy back room deals, but transparently and openly, a campaign that transcends party political affiliation and belongs to the people.”
Backing the simulated poll, Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle believes there is increasing support for a united Ireland.
She said, “Sinn Féin has been long campaigning for a referendum on Irish Unity as provided for under the Good Friday Agreement and have been hosting conferences the length and bread of Ireland and abroad in support of this objective. We therefore welcome and encourage this initiative by the IRSP as it adds to the growing debate currently taking place at a time when poll after poll has indicated increasing support for a new and united Ireland.
“The north is changing. The perpetual unionist majority is gone and a new generation is questioning partition. They are looking beyond it.
They want to define their place in a new and united Ireland.”
However Castlederg Ulster Unionist councillor, Derek Hussey believes any talk of a border poll is premature.
“This is politicking, at a time when nobody is quite sure what the outcome of Brexit is going to be,” he said.
“No matter what the outcome of the poll it will have no impact on the overall situation we all face.
“Anyway, I doubt very much if the majority of people would wish to leave the United Kingdom.”
The Building for a Socialist Ireland public talk and debate will take place in the Civic Room Strabane Library starting at 7pm on Thursday November 15.
Simulated Border Poll Canvass dates
• Saturday November 17 at 1pm
• Thursday November 22 at 5pm
• Saturday November 24 at 1pm
• Thursday November 29 at 5pm
• Saturday December 8 at 1pm