Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA has called on everyone to work together to end sectarianism.
The junior minister was speaking after launching the party’s document, titled Inclusion and Reconciliation in a New Ireland which proposes a series of actions and initiatives to tackle sectarian divisions and advance national reconciliation and healing.
Declan Kearney said:
“While many people are now beginning to contemplate a future no longer defined by partition, the divisions and fault lines caused by past events remain unresolved.
“Irish society has been deeply scarred by political conflict. Enduring hurt and division have never been healed.
“There are major challenges today for all who seek fundamental constitutional, political and societal change in Ireland.
“Events of the past week have reiterated the need to tackle sectarianism and the damaging impact it has on our society and moving forward.
“Parties must stand united against this violence and appeal to all concerned to refrain from further threats or use of violence and call on those directing it to stop.
“The need for a reconciliation process in Ireland is beyond dispute. We need to work together to end sectarianism.
“The development and implementation of new initiatives and strategies to tackle sectarianism and bigotry, and to advance reconciliation and healing, is critical to our future.
“The Good Friday Agreement set out a vision of a rights based non-sectarian future, and it gave all our citizens the opportunity to decide their future together.
“Overcoming division is a priority for all those who are genuinely committed to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Sinn Féin is absolutely committed to challenging sectarianism in all its manifestations and ensuring the development of a culture of respect for all identities, cultures and traditions.
“I am calling for agreement on the introduction of a clear legal definition of sectarianism as a hate crime within anti-sectarianism legislation with appropriate legally enforceable sanctions, and against actions which are motivated by sectarianism.
“Reconciliation and healing must be the antidote to past conflict and hostility.
“Practically, this means dealing with sectarianism in all its manifestations and embedding an anti-sectarian ethos, culture and commitment at the heart of politics and public life.
“Our proposals also include the incorporation of a citizens’ anti-sectarian charter into the pledges of Ministers, MLAs, TDs and local councillors across the island, and the full implementation of the Together: Building a United Community strategy in the north.
“Sinn Féin will seek the establishment of a civic forum in the north as a platform to encourage cross-community and anti-sectarian solidarity within civic society, and the introduction of an all-island reconciliation strategy under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council.
“Together let’s end sectarianism, and together let us commit ourselves to reconciliation as something that is essential for building a better future for all.”