People are waking up to the fact that Ireland is receiving more support from the EU than Scotland is from Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The Scottish First Minister criticised the London government for treating Scotland with “utter contempt” over Brexit.
“We voted over 60% to remain, we have tried very hard in the wake of the UK-wide Brexit vote to find compromises and protect our interests, and we have worked hard across party lines to try and prevent the worst impact of Brexit, and we have been ignored,” she said during an event in Dublin.
“Votes in the Scottish Parliament have been cast aside, they have even in the process of the Brexit fiasco taken powers away from the Scottish Parliament in order to centralise how they deal with all of this.
“Scotland has been treated with contempt by Westminster and people are contrasting that with Ireland that has been shown real solidarity and support from the European Union.
“Suddenly this idea of being a small independent country in the European Union, we only have to look at Ireland to see the benefits of that and many people are having their eyes opened.”
Ms Sturgeon was speaking in a public conversation with Dearbhail McDonald at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin during a visit to Ireland on Monday.
She said she expects Scotland will vote for independence the next time a referendum is held, adding that the relationship between her nation and Ireland will grow even stronger then.
“There will be another Scottish independence referendum and I will make a prediction today that Scotland will vote for independence and we will become an independent country just like Ireland, and the strong relationship between our two countries now will become even stronger soon,” she said.
“I want to see Scotland having the choice of independence within this term of the Scottish Parliament which ends in May 2021, so towards the latter half of next year would be when I think is the right time for that choice.”
Ms Sturgeon also said the SNP has examined Ireland’s path to independence in their own planning.
“The proposition that my party is putting forward now is that we should follow the same path that Ireland followed when it became independent, we use the pound which is our currency until such times as the economic conditions are right to move to an independent Scottish currency, it’s a perfectly well-trodden path,” she said.
Ms Sturgeon will meet Irish business leaders, school children and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during her visit to Dublin.
She will stress the importance of the Irish export market to Scotland, worth £1.5 billion in 2017.