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McGuinness urges republican dialogue with unionists

“Ireland as a nation can only truly prosper if we are at peace with ourselves as a people,” McGuinness said at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis.

Martin McGuinness delivering his keynote address in Killarney.
Martin McGuinness delivering his keynote address in Killarney.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness has said that republicans have a responsibility to reach out to unionists for dialogue about the past and the future.

Speaking at the opening of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Killarney, McGuinness said that “Irish unity is not simply a republican objective”.

“There is a better way than the status quo,” he said during his keynote speech. “A re-united Ireland and a New Republic built in the interests of citizens is the future. There is massive potential for Republicans in the time ahead. We are in an entirely new situation legislatively and constitutionally.”

McGuinness said the party’s work as republicans was far from over and that it is now time to move from peace building to nation building.

“This is not about trying to turn unionists into nationalists or to try and hook wink people about our intentions,” he told party members gathered in Killarney. “The reality is that much hurt has been caused on all sides during the conflict and indeed by the very imposition of partition itself.”

The former presidential candidate also said that the party has received positive responses from discussions with members of civic unionism and Protestant churches.

However, he accused the British government of having no interest in engaging in a process that “would deliver truth and reconciliation”.

The “divisions fostered through decades of conflict and the British government stalling on the issue of the past” should not be allowed to hold back the potential to move forward, he added.

In that context, we have a responsibility to reach out to unionists and to others to engage with them about the past and indeed even more importantly about the future. A united Ireland will succeed with the input of all sections of our people. We seek an Ireland in which unionists would feel comfortable not just in being a part of but being in the leadership of.

He said that dialogue isn’t just a one-way street and that republicans “need to listen to what unionists say to us and indeed about us”.

The party’s leader Gerry Adams is due to address the Ard Fheis tomorrow and is expected to discuss the party’s opposition to the Fiscal Treaty.

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