‘Unionism must embrace power-sharing’ – O’Neill
The need for political unionism to embrace power-sharing and engage in the debate around the future of Ireland has been magnified by the consequences of Brexit, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has told the party’s Ard Fheis in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.
Addressing 3,000 delegates and guests from across Ireland and internationally, the Sinn Féin Vice President also urged republicans to continue building the process of reconciliation.
“I have absolutely no doubt that there are many, many within the unionist community who look at Brexit with the same fear and trepidation as nationalists and republicans,” she said.
“I see no contradiction in declaring and delivering on our firm commitment to power sharing with unionism and a functioning Assembly while also initiating a mature and inclusive debate about new political arrangements which better serve all of us who share this island.
“Similarly, there is no contradiction in unionism working the existing constitutional arrangements while taking its rightful place in the conversation about what a New Ireland would look like.
“Central to this debate is the essential process of reconciliation. Indeed, if we are to build a reconciled society collectively we need to be receptive to all voices and new ideas.”
Describing the need to nurture peace and promote reconcilliation as “a call to action”, Michelle O’Neill added: “It means that each and every one of us here today accepts and understands our responsibility to reach out.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
“Republicans must show example to others within and between our communities.
“This requires leadership. It means stretching ourselves today, tomorrow and the day after.
“Because the prize is a better, more prosperous and peaceful and rights based society for all of our young people – the Good Friday generation.”