Orange Order marches would have a place in a new united Ireland, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said today.
In an speech to the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Wales, he insisted republicans had no desire to conquer or humiliate unionists.
The veteran party leader, who recently appealed through the Belfast Telegraph for the Order to open talks with Sinn Fein, said the genuine fears and concerns of unionists — including their sense of Britishness — needed to be explored in a meaningful way.
And he also told the gathering in Swansea, made up of MPs, members of the regional Assemblies as well as elected representatives from the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, that the people of Britain have a duty “to themselves, to unionists in particular, to the Irish in general and even to the world” to give their opinion on Irish reunification.
“We need to look at ways in which the unionist people can find their place in a new Ireland. In other words it needs to be their united Ireland,” the West Belfast MP said.
Sinn Fein’s vision of a new Ireland was where unionists have “equal ownership” with respect for cultural diversity, and political, social, economic and cultural equality because nationalists and republicans did not seek to deny the rights of others.
“The real distinction that we have always drawn is between justice and privilege. Justice for all and privilege for none. This means, for example, that Orange marches will have their place in a new Ireland, albeit on the basis of respect and co-operation,” he said.
With the main focus of the two-day event on the recession, Mr Adams argued that in economic terms the border is more than just an inconvenience — it is an obstacle to progress.
“While its adverse affects are most clearly felt in the communities that straddle the border, it also impacts negatively throughout the island. The reality is that the economy of the North is too small to exist in isolation.
“There are some who suggest that because we live in a period of severe economic difficulty that Irish reunification should be put off for the foreseeable future. In fact the opposite is the case,” Mr Adams went on.
“There is now a need, more than ever, for the island economy to be brought into being in the fullest sense, and for the political and administrative structures to be instituted with that in mind.”