Launch of Unionist Engagement Charter
Speaking at the launch of the Unionist Engagement Charter in the Long Gallery, Stormont today, Sinn Féin Assembly Member for Foyle, Martina Anderson said:
"Sinn Fein has met with many of you over the years and also in recent times, and I would like welcome you to this launch and to thank all of you for your courage and leadership in doing so.
"Many of you have participated in discussion and opened up space for engagement with people from your community when it was not the most popular thing to do.
"I know there are those who say that the launch of such initiatives by republicans is part of some hidden agenda to con or trick unionist people we engage with. This is an insult to the intelligence of unionist people. To engage in dialogue with others who have a different perspective is not a weakness but a strength.
"Sinn Fein is very clear and open about its objectives. We have a vision of the type of society that we believe is necessary to build on this Island if we are to create the quality of life that all our people are entitled to.
"As an Irish Republican, I believe in the reunification of our country and the establishment of a sovereign democratic and independent nation, as the best political structure to provide the basis for a just and caring society.
"I know that many unionists believe differently. However, let us use this charter as a basis to engage with each other, to draw out each others thinking on how we all believe we can best deliver the type of future we want for all our children."
Party colleague and Minister of Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA added:
"In my position as Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development I endorse and echo what the charter says, as I firmly believe that with the pressure rural and coastal communities are under at present, all of us on this island need to stand together to ensure that we restore a place for farming, fishing and the rural-coastal way of life across the island. By coming together we can give a voice to rural and coastal communities and reverse the trends of urbanisation, depopulation, economic decline and the misuse of natural resources.
"We hope the launch of this Charter today will be seen by all as evidence of our genuine commitment to facilitating this process. We will continue to seek and to promote dialogue with unionists at every possible opportunity. It was in advancement of this that Sinn Fein established a Unionist Engagement Department to give a focus to this important work.
"We are genuinely committed to building an understanding of each other, and establishing a consensus for a shared future based on respect for each other's differences. The Charter is intended to provide a basis for ongoing discussion. We sincerely believe that by these means we will be able to transcend the differences that have divided us in the past. A genuinely shared future can only be built on equality." ENDS