Martin Ferris – Uniting Ireland keynote
The unification of our island as a sovereign Republic remains at the heart of our project. We are confident that aim is shared by the majority of the Irish people, and we are confident that will achieve that objective.
We are also conscious that we need to act as persuaders for a United Ireland and that is why we are engaged in a wide ranging outreach to people in all sections of our community including within the Unionist community.
That work is ongoing and I would like to pay tribute to the vital role within all of that of Lucilita Breathnach and others.
As part of that work we have organised conferences on a range of issues. Central to that is to demonstrate that the unification of the country is not some esoteric or mystical pursuit but that it is a practical and indeed realistic objective.
Many people indeed, who do not share our republican commitment to achieving unity, are persuaded by the practical aspects of the question.
It is not only ludicrous across so many sectors of Irish life that we have duplicate organisations and networks but it actually costly in terms of lost opportunities. To that end we have already produced research showing the economic and financial benefits of organising the economy and public services on an all Ireland basis.
We need to develop that further and to draw in a wider and wider range of people with expertise in different areas and who can assist in framing the policies and frameworks for best utilising our resources on an All Ireland basis.
We are also of course a campaigning party and a party to whom increasing numbers of our people look to for a lead in their own struggles against the current economic and political order.
And while there are differences between the two jurisdictions there are many areas where mutual co-operation between communities can be most effective in achieving outcomes for those communities.
A current case in point is the campaign to ensure that the gas that lies under several of the border counties in the Lough Allen Basin is not extracted through the process known as fracking. Our party representatives on both sides of the border; in Stormont and in Leinster House and on local authorities have been to the fore on this. We also need of course to highlight the wider issues of ownership and taxation of the gas itself.
All of this and other ley issues must be faced on an All Ireland basis with the practical aim of implementing our policies within a 32 county administration in the not too distant future.
I look forward to listening to the debate.