Speaking at the ‘On These Steps’ event today at Union Theological College in Belfast, Sinn Féin national chairperson Declan Kearney MLA said:
“For Irish republicans and nationalists, there is nothing to celebrate regarding the partition of Ireland.
“Irish nationalism and republicanism have our own perspectives and experiences of partition; discrimination and state repression were the lived experience for successive generations.
“The political, social and cultural consequences of what happened during the decade 1912 to 1922 continue to reverberate to this day – but the Good Friday Agreement has created an alternative to political conflict.
“The peace agreement guaranteed parity of esteem and equality; it removed the British government’s veto on constitutional change and replaced it with the consent of the citizens who live here.
“The current Assembly is unrecognisable from the old Unionist regime at Stormont – the once monolithic unionist majority has gone. Change is happening all around us.
“A defining watershed has opened up for relationships in Ireland, and between Ireland, Britain and the European Union.
“Some of a British/unionist identity have begun to re-evaluate what this means – they want a future built on modern and pluralist values.
“As a republican I welcome the chance to share our vision of an open, inclusive and agreed Ireland.
“We need to fearlessly challenge sectarianism and oppose any deepening of divisions in our politics and community.
“The current discourse on constitutional change in Ireland must also address the challenge of building a reconciliation and healing process.
“We will all need to bring humility, forgiveness and grace to how that is done.
“To look towards the future together, affirmed in the knowledge that tomorrow is another country. And inspired with the conviction that the new Ireland, cannot and will not be the old Ireland.”