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SDLP leads way for new political path for all Ireland

Published 22/09/2015

As I read Gerry Adams' comments about a non-traditional united Ireland, I was once again reminded that the SDLP lead and Sinn Fein follow.

The SDLP always opposed violence - Sinn Fein followed. The SDLP supported the principle of consent - Sinn Fein followed. The SDLP supported the PSNI - Sinn Fein followed. And so on.

It is welcome that Gerry Adams has now belatedly followed the SDLP and adopted the language of Mark Durkan MP and the SDLP policy document A United Ireland and the Agreement, launched in 2005.

Uniquely in the north and on the island, Mark Durkan MP and the SDLP have consistently developed radical thinking and set out clear views on the structures of a united Ireland and the strategy required to achieve it.

The SDLP policy document and the Agreement stated clearly that, in that united Ireland, the Agreement would endure. The institutions in the north would stand. The British-Irish structures would continue.

It set out a vision of a united Ireland based on equality. It stressed the rights, protections and inclusion that nationalists sought within Northern Ireland, while it is in the UK, must equally be guaranteed to unionists within a united Ireland.

As Mark Durkan stated then: "We seek a united Ireland that is confident, pluralist and non-sectarian. One that can find the magnanimity to offer a home not only to those who are Irish, but also to those among us who are British. One that is unafraid of differing identities and allegiances. One that will respect and protect them all."

On the dawn of the centenaries in 2016 of the Easter Rising, the Somme and other battles, let us have a serious dialogue within constitutional nationalism in Ireland and between nationalists and unionists to discuss this "big idea" and how we can forge a new political path for the whole of the island.

CLLR TIM ATTWOOD (SDLP)

Belfast City Council

Belfast Telegraph

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