James McClean: Why I want to see a united Ireland

The Derry News has been publishing a weekly series of articles which have been commissioned by the lobby group 'Think 32'. A number of local figures will debate what type of Ireland they wish to see. This week it is Republic of Ireland international footballer and Derry man James McClean.

James McClean

James McClean describes himself as 'an Irishman to the core'.

I have had the honour of representing my country on the football pitch. 

Captaining Ireland was among the proudest moments in my life because I am an Irishman to the core.

But despite being able to do these things, I have always been conscious of the fact that some rights are still denied to me because I happen to have been born in the North.

I can captain my country, but I still can’t vote for my country’s President.

I can represent the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) at home and abroad, but I can’t have any democratic say in the make up of the government that funds it.

Partition is rife with such failures and contradictions. 

To me, it simply doesn’t make sense to have two ‘national’ football teams on an island this size never mind two health systems, two education systems and two governments.

As an Irish man and an Irish citizen, I want the island of Ireland to be reunified under a government for all our people.

I don’t want to have any technicalities, caveats or doubts questioning my nationality.

And I strongly believe that everyone who lives on this island should be entitled to the same rights as each other. 

The best way to achieve all of that is through the reunification of our island and the creation of a new all-Ireland administration that governs in the best interests of the people.

I am certainly not alone in that belief. 

Every day, more and more people are coming to the same conclusion when they look at what is happening with Brexit, austerity and the handling of the pandemic. 

And at the end of the day, all we are asking for is the right to choose our own future through a referendum on Irish unity.

That’s democracy and what has anyone got to be afraid of in that?

I want my children to grow up in a better country than the one I and generations before me, grew up in.

Surely that is what all parents want.

I am convinced that a better Ireland is possible through reunification.

So let’s have the debate. Let’s have the vote.

And let’s win it!

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