SF leaders want republicans to reach out to unionists
SINN FÉIN leaders Martin McGuinness and Declan Kearney used Easter Sunday addresses to urge republicans to reach out to unionists and to increase their efforts to achieve true reconciliation.
The North’s Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness told Sinn Féin supporters at Drumboe, Co Donegal, that they had a responsibility to engage with unionists and others about “future structures on this island”.
Mr McGuinness said republicans must be open to practical ways of giving expression to the unionist sense of Britishness “within a united Ireland”.
“In the discussions leading to reunification, we will be imaginative in terms of passport rights, symbols and other issues of identity crucial to building a fully inclusive united Ireland respecting the traditions of all our people in all their diversity,” he said.
“We seek a united Ireland in which the unionist section of our people feel comfortable and play a full part in the life of the nation. I believe that it is possible for unionists and republicans to stand together without dilution of our beliefs.
“As was stated to me very clearly by a unionist leader, ‘Martin, we can rule ourselves, we don’t need direct rulers coming over from London telling us what to do’. That statement provided common ground on which we can all stand,” said Mr McGuinness.
Sinn Féin chairman Declan Kearney said in Belfast that increased engagement with the wider unionist and Protestant community was essential.
“That presents a huge challenge for us. Unionists continue to harbour suspicions about republicans. Unionists have been hurt by the war and so too have republicans.”
Bringing about an Ireland at peace with itself was a pre-requisite to achieving Sinn Féin’s ultimate aim of an “Ireland of equals”,
Mr Kearney added, “so it is time to begin discussing how shared hurts can be acknowledged, lessened, and if possible healed.”
Mr Kearney also told republicans that the “IRA fought the war to a conclusion . . . Make no mistake, there is no other IRA, here in Belfast or anywhere else, and there is no armed struggle to be finished.”