Thursday, January 19, 2006


McAleese discusses United Ireland

A United Ireland? You decide!Irish President Mary McAleese told pupils at a top school in Ireland's north yesterday that it was up to them to decide if they wanted a united Ireland.

She met boys at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, an overwhelmingly Protestant school, whose former students include politicians and senior members of the judiciary.

During a question-and-answer session with pupils, Mrs McAleese was asked if she thought the province would merge with the Republic in the near future.

The President told the pupils she did not know the answer to the question, but said the Good Friday Agreement had put in place a framework for resolving the constitutional dilemma.

Mrs McAleese said: "You will be part of the process of change because it is going to be your generation that will take these issues, open them up and explore them.

"And the happy thing for your generation is that you are the first generation to probably have the joy of debating these issues coolly, calmly, without any threat of violence, in an egalitarian atmosphere, in a democracy, and I think that's a great gift to your generation.

"Whatever your decision is about it, it is your decision.

"That's the big, big difference and the debate, for the first time in a very long time, will take place in a very, very different environment.

"As to what the outcome will be, that will be down to you because it is down to the people of Northern Ireland, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, to make the decisions."

Seems like a very safe answer to me which I guess is smart since if it wasn't, she'd be facing calls from unionist politicians demanding apologies left, right and centre.

The President is right though. Future generations will determine the fate of a problem that is firmly rooted in the past.

I strongly believe that in an environment free of intimidation and suffering, the people of the north and south will come to the conclusion that it is in this island's best interests to unite and put an end to the unnecessary evil that is partition.

It is the way forward.


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