‘I ask the Unionists in the north of Ireland to say for the first time, Come and build with us. Say yes’

Final chapter of Seamus Mallon’s maiden speech in House of Commons as MP in 1986

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon after he was forced out of office following David Trimble’s resignation, in Stormont, Belfast July 2nd, 2001. Northern Ireland disarmament authorities say the IRA have failed to disarm, which led to First Minister Trimble’s resignation. Photograph: Reuters/Paul McErlane

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon after he was forced out of office following David Trimble’s resignation, in Stormont, Belfast July 2nd, 2001. Northern Ireland disarmament authorities say the IRA have failed to disarm, which led to First Minister Trimble’s resignation. Photograph: Reuters/Paul McErlane

 

Extract from from Mallon’s maiden speech in the House of Commons in February 1986, just months after the Anglo-Irish Agreement:

“We need something new. For one thing, we need strong nerves. The storm clouds are gathering. Those who should be sitting in their places in the chamber and leading are threatening instead. They are threatening the community in my constituency and they are threatening British institutions. They are threatening the very forces within Ireland which are working towards peace.

Seamus Mallon, 1936-2020

A life in pictures VIEW NOW

“That is not leadership. Courage is needed from the Government and from the Irish Government. The accord will only be as good as what it achieves, nothing more and nothing less. It must narrow the gap between the decisions and deliberations at inter-governmental level that have an effect on people’s lives and deaths...

“I make no apologies, and never do, for saying that my aim is to create Irish unity by peaceful, democratic, constitutional and political means. I shall create it, if I can, on the Floor of the House, or on the floor of whatever other forum is available to me.

“I wish to create that unity in such a way that will not cost one drop of blood and will not remove anyone’s self-respect from him. I ask the unionists in the North of Ireland to say for the first time, ‘Come and build with us. Say yes’.”