Gerry Carlile, CEO of Ireland's Future.

OPINION: Today's Cooper Union Summit is Direction Sign on Road to Unity

Today, Friday, the first of March, portends to be a watershed moment in the focus of Irish-America on the issue of Irish national reunification.

Sponsored by seven Irish-American groups of great reach and influence, comprised of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Ladies AOH, Brehon Law Society, Irish-American Unity Conference, Friends of Sinn Féin, Friendly Sons of St Patrick Long Island, and the James Connolly Irish-American Labor Coalition, the Irish Unity Summit will be held at the historic Cooper Union Great Hall, location of many addresses and forums that had far reaching implications.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both spoke in the Great Hall on the issues of freedom, unity and justice. The Great Hall this Friday will once again be the venue for discussions on the same subjects. It is becoming increasingly clear that a referendum in Ireland deciding future governance in a united and shared thirty-two county nation is an inevitability.

The only time that the entire Irish nation voted as one to decide their future was in 1918 where the vast majority of voters cast ballots for an independent nation. The will of the electorate was disregarded, as has often been the case, and the Irish War For Independence commenced.

Senator Frances Black. photo.

Senator Frances Black. photo.

Only three counties in the northeast of Ireland had a pro-union majority, yet another three counties from the historic nine county province of Ulster were added to the pro-union three, creating a statelet remaining in the UK.

As a result of this benighted decision the Irish Civil War erupted and for most of the twentieth century a six-county Jim Crow regime and second-class citizenship for the Irish nationalist community ensured resistance and ensuing tragedy.

Abraham Lincoln on the day of his Cooper Union speech, February 27, 1860.

Abraham Lincoln on the day of his Cooper Union speech, February 27, 1860.

In the immortal words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” It has indeed been long in many respects for the Irish people, but we are now at a point in history where the Irish people, North and South, across traditional adversarial communities and faith traditions, can be united at last in a new Ireland that will be devoted to "cherishing all of the children of the nation equally" as so eloquently stated in the foundational 1916 Proclamation.

A very important group, Ireland’s Future, has been established to facilitate the path to a referendum, and to address concerns across Ireland about what exactly needs to be done to achieve the referendum, and what the united Irish state would entail. Non-partisan and non-sectarian, Ireland’s Future is diligently developing the road map from the aspiration for Irish Unity to the realization of a free, just, and inclusive Ireland.

Founded by Niall Murphy, Secretary of Ireland’s Future, and a panelist at the Irish Unity Summit, the organization is chaired by An Seanadóir Frances Black.

Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass.

Ireland’s Future’s CEO Gerry Carlile will also be in New York City this week and is meeting with political, community and Irish-American organization representatives to share the clear vision and mission of Ireland’s Future, the progress made in engaging the various political parties and communities of Ireland to alleviate anxiety about inclusion in a united Ireland and to seek to leave nobody behind in the new dynamic, free from foreign political domination, regardless of traditional identifications.

America, as always, will have an important role to play, and I strongly urge each of you to attend the Irish Unity Summit on March 1st at Cooper Union to learn more and decide what role you can play in Ireland's Future as the unity referendum is on the horizon and historic divisions can at last be healed.