A GRASSROOTS GAA organisation comprising of thousands of Gaels – including well known hurling, football and camogie stars – have written to the new Taoiseach calling on the Irish government to formulate a Citizens' Assembly on "an agreed shared Ireland".

Gaels Le Chéile – spearheaded by Antrim Gaels, including Paddy Cunningham and Jane Adams – hope to meet with Simon Harris in the weeks ahead. The letter, which was previously sent to Mr Harris' predecessor Leo Varadkar, has 17,000 signatures to date.

The letter states: "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. 

"Conversations are taking place across society regarding what shape our island will take in the coming period. They are also happening at every level amongst the GAA community.  We want the Irish government to take the lead in planning these discussions and planning for the future. 

"We are asking the Government to establish an All Island Citizens Assembly reflecting the views of citizens North and South to achieve maximum consensus on a way forward. 

"Gaels are uniquely well-placed at the very heart of local communities to contribute constructively to the conversation on the future of this Island.  We want to encourage citizens from all traditions to be part of this discussion." 

"It is the responsibility of the Irish Government to ensure that 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. 

"We urge you to start this process, based on the vision of democratic change set out in the Good Friday Agreement. 

"The planning needs to start now."

Speaking before taking up the reins this week, Simon Harris said Irish unity is "a legitimate aspiration" but will not be his priority as incoming Taoiseach.