If Sinn Féin continues to “rush the horses” in its push for a United Ireland Referendum, it will lose, Shane Coleman has predicted.
Speaking at Stormont yesterday evening, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said the days of partition in Ireland are “numbered”.
She said a United Ireland was now within ‘touching distance’ – noting that partition creates significant economic challenges and disadvantages in the North and along the border.
Deputy McDonald said the prospect of Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill entering the Executive as First Minister was a “clear emblem of the wider change that has happened right across Ireland”.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, presenter Shane Coleman said Sinn Féin should “be careful what they wish for”.
“If Sinn Féin try to rush the horses on this, they will lose,” he said.
“I actually think we are probably ten to 15 years away from being in a position where you would win a referendum.
“I think if there was a referendum in the next couple of years, it would probably pass in the south but it wouldn’t pass in the North.
“I think it would definitely fall short in the North.
“So, I just think Sinn Féin need to be careful what they wish for here.
“If they push this too fast, too quickly, too far, I think they will lose. If they play the long game, which SF is generally good at doing, then I think a United Ireland could happen in our lifetime.”
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) January 31, 2024
Fellow presenter Ciara Kelly said she does not believe now is the time for Sinn Féin to be making “triumphalist statements”.
“I think everyone sees Northern Ireland the way they want to see Northern Ireland,” she said.
“Mary Lou McDonald, not unsurprisingly, thinks that it is within touching distance – I don’t see it as within touching distance myself.
“I’m not against a United Ireland but I am not a wild advocate for it either. I’ve been referred to as a partitionist at times on this show when I’ve said that – but I suspect there are quite a lot of us.”
She said having a Sinn Féin First Minister is a “historic change” in the North but it is a “bit premature” to suggest a United Ireland is within touching distance.
“Also, with respect to Mary Lou McDonald, I don’t think this is the time for any sort of triumphalist statements,” she said.
“Unionism is in a state of febrile convulsion at the moment and I would let things sit for a while and let the North settle.”
She said we could see a United Ireland within her lifetime, but she does not see it happening anytime soon.
Shane Said he feels Deputy McDonald is “entitled to advocate for a United Ireland”, adding that he thinks unionists expect her to do so.