The UK government should indicate what it considers to be the tipping point for a referendum on Irish unity, Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald has said.
Ms McDonald said a priority for her was that preparations for a border ballot should begin and added that those conversations needed to include trade unionists from Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein recently came out on top in the Northern Ireland Assembly election for the first time, and a number of opinion polls have shown the Republican Party leading among voters determined to the Republic.
Appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Ms McDonald was asked what her tipping point was in calling for a referendum on Irish unity.
She said: “There will have to be two referenda, north and south, in both jurisdictions.
“At this stage, the big priority for me and for us is that the preparation for such a referendum is underway.
“We need to have a very broad conversation with all of society and that needs to include trade unionism, those who will campaign against reunification, those for whom as we move into a united Ireland it will not be their first preference.
“We need to hear all those voices and so I have urged Dublin to start preparations now, I think there is nothing to be gained by burying their heads in the sand.
Recent elections in the north are just the latest demonstration of the depth of change across Ireland
“The recent elections in the north are just the latest demonstration of the depth of change across Ireland.”
The Sinn Fein chairman added: “The government in Westminster, the UK government, needs to state its view, how it views the tipping point issue when the referendums take place.
“Whatever the answer to that question, have no doubt that change, positive change, exciting change, incremental change, is afoot in Ireland.
“It’s good news for Britain too because parts of the whole project of building a new island are building, renewing, cementing this relationship that we have with our closest neighbour.”
The recent NI Life & Times survey indicated that nearly two-thirds of Northern Irish people believe Brexit has increased the likelihood of Irish unity.
But, following Sinn Fein’s victory in May Stormont’s Assembly election, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he was “amused” by speculation that it would spark further debate about a border ballot and a united Ireland, pointing out that this was not the overriding issue of the campaign. .
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