SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has called on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to set out the criteria for a referendum on Irish unity in the interests of ‘democratic transparency’ today.
The Principle of Consent negotiated in the Good Friday Agreement gives Northern Ireland a clear and legal pathway to a new constitutional future outside of the union with Great Britain but the power to call a referendum remains with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Mr Eastwood was speaking in the House of Commons following a Supreme Court ruling on the question of powers to hold a Scottish Independence referendum.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Colum Eastwood MP said:
“The Supreme Court ruling today confirms that the United Kingdom has never been a partnership of equals – it is a hierarchy based on the will of England dominating the legitimate aspirations of all others. And while Northern Ireland has a clear and legal pathway to a different constitutional future through the principle of consent, that path remains bound to the discretion of a Secretary of State calling a referendum on Irish Unity.
“The former MP for Cork City Charles Stewart Parnell was right when he said that no man has the right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation. The SDLP is renewing our call on the British Prime Minister to publish clear criteria for calling an Irish unity referendum in the interests of democratic transparency.
“The choice about the North’s future should be based on a contest of ideas, rooted in the interests of our people and all our communities.”