Catherine Seeley's speech to 2015 Ard Fheis live section 2015

7 March, 2015


In 1987 8 IRA volunteers and a civilian were shot dead by the SAS in an ambush at Loughgall.

In November that same year 11 civilians were killed by an IRA bomb at a Remembrance Day service in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

80 other people died that year as a result of the conflict in the North.

That was the year I was born.

Yet even though I was born into a war situation I grew up in the context of peace - albeit a fragile and imperfect peace.

7 years later the IRA called a ceasefire, the loyalists followed suit and the road opened for engagement, talks, negotiations and eventually the Good Friday Agreement.

1998 promised a better future for everyone. I grew up amidst hope and optimism.

In the 17 years since 1998 we have had many more engagements, negotiations and Agreements -  Weston Park, St. Andrews, Hillsborough, and more recently, Stormont House.

Because at times we need to return to talks - when it is necessary to push both the political and peace processes forward.

But I believe, it is the failure to address the issue of reconciliation, national reconciliation, the very process of nation building and peace building, that brings us back to the negotiating table, time and time again.

This needs resolved in order to move our collective society forward.

In the wake of this latest agreement there will be a renewed focus on the need to develop a reconciliation process that addresses the trans-generational division and hurt created by conflict - on all sides.

It is Sinn Féin’s ambition to achieve real national reconciliation in our time.

To build an Ireland of Equals.

This process must be an all-inclusive one and it must address the past.

But ultimately - it must serve the future.

Those tasked with shaping such a process, must find a meaningful role for the many younger political and community voices on all sides in taking this process forward.

Those of us who grew up in peace from differing political backgrounds, and with a bigger stake in the future than in the past, have an important contribution to make.

Our voices must be heard.

Go raibh mile maith agat.