Fermanagh Gaels call on Taoiseach to lead the way on ‘shared Ireland’ debate

ONE THOUSAND Fermanagh Gaels have signed a letter calling on an Taoiseach to open a mature, fact-based discussion on the future of a “shared Ireland.”
In a bid to attempt the confusion and lack of understanding of the issues in the lead up to the Brexit referendum, and to ensure everyone is included in the conversations that are already happening on constitutional change at a grassroots level, members of the county’s GAA clubs at all levels have called on the Dublin Government to open an All Island Citizens Assembly.
“As Irish citizens we believe that the future prosperity and well-being of all citizens on our island will be best upheld living in equality together in an agreed shared Ireland,” said the letter, which was first signed by a number of prominent local Gaels including Peter McGinnity, Barry Owens, Courteney Murphy, Fr Gary Donegan, Daniel Teague, and Eamon Maguire.
The letter urged the Irish government to “take the lead” in planning discussions on the future of the island, and pointed out these conversations were already happening on the ground.
“We are asking the Government to establish an All Island Citizens Assembly reflecting the views or citizens North and South to achieve maximum consensus on a way forward,” it states, stressing this should include “citizens from all traditions.”
The letter told the Taoiseach it was “the responsibility of the Irish Government to ensure the democratic rights of all citizens are respected and protected, regardless of where they live on the island.”
“This is important at all times, but it is especially so now, in the wake of Brexit,” it stressed.
The Fermanagh letter comes off the back of a similar one sent to an Taoiseach by Antrim GAA members, which had over 3,000 signatures, including that of Fermanagh hurler Kevin McKeogh. Having got moved to Belfast over 30 years ago, where he joind St John’s, the former Coa footballer and Lisbellaw hurler is well connected in both the Fermanagh and Antrim GAA circles.
Kevin told the Herald the letter had grown organically locally, since he first floated the idea around a month ago.
“We started off with what we called a starting 15 [prominent Gaels], but ended up with a panel of 20,” he said, adding that after they began circulating on WhatsApp the signatures kept growing.
“We’ve now 1,000 Gaels from Fermanagh saying to the Taoiseach, we saw what happened in with the lack of proper discussion, we need a mature discussion,” Kevin added. “We as GAA people, alongside otheres, are stakeholders within civic society, and we are calling on an Taoiseach to begin these the discussions around constitutional change, and ensure they happen properly.”
Kevin said he felt recent comments by Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and others “show there is an appetite for this discussion” and said the power of the letter sent to Dublin was that is was a grassroots initiative coming direct from people on the ground in civic society.

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