Eastwood: Poll lays out challenge for nationalism
Mr Eastwood said that nationalism now needs to build a detailed and credible plan for Irish unity that makes the economic, social and political case for reunification.
He said, “The SDLP continues to believe that Irish unity is the biggest and the best idea around. Following the EU referendum result, the case for the reunification of this island within Europe has never been stronger. The deep divergence of the democratic wishes of people in Northern Ireland and Scotland from England and Wales has, for the first time in a generation, given many serious cause to question their own predetermined constitutional views. And there’s now a growing acceptance that short term stability and long term economic security are best served in a united and prosperous new Ireland.
“But we cannot pretend that this is an overnight realisation for many. The results of the BBC IPSOS MORI poll set out the clear challenge for nationalism. We now need to put in the hard yards to develop a credible and detailed path to Irish unity. Only a comprehensive national debate with detailed proposals can move the discussion beyond the predetermined and into the practical. Scottish Independence activists compiled a 670-page document outlining the road to independent nationhood. That saw support from independence rise from 28% in 2013 to 45% in 2014.
“I firmly believe that the people of Northern Ireland will judge that their interests are best served in a united Ireland, in the same way that they astutely judged our interests were best served in a strong, united Europe. The challenge now is for civic nationalism to articulate how unity can provide better public services, forge a vibrant new economy and create a better quality of life for everyone on the island. The SDLP is up for that challenge and we’ll join with others across this island to make that case.”