Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has referred to as for “urgent” plans for a border poll on Irish unity.

She said “now is the time” to seize the chance to start a dialogue on the matter.

It comes after census figures revealed Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for the primary time because the partition of the island.

The Census 2021 figures confirmed that 45.7% of the area’s population said they have been both Catholic or introduced up as a Catholic.

“Make no mistake now,” she said. “Government cannot continue to look the other way – change is happening. And it’s for all of us to seize the opportunity.

“A future of unity and progress draws closer and a new Ireland is on the horizon.”

Speaking in Dublin at the launch of Sinn Fein’s Budget 2023 proposals she said her party would make monetary provision for the institution of a residents’ meeting on Irish reunification.

“I believe that this matter is now urgent,” she said.

“It’s time for an inclusive conversation about the future of our country.

“And that is a future that belongs to everybody who calls this island home.”

She said the Government had “stuck its head in the sand” concerning the challenge to date.

“The conversation, the planning, the dialogue which has to be inclusive needs to start now,” she said.

She added that Sinn Fein believes the “best vehicle” to accomplish that can be a Citizens’ Assembly.

She said it will not be of giant cost to the State financially, including that what’s missing is the “political realism and political ambition to seize this moment so we’re making that call again”.

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