Belfast Telegraph

The time is right for nationalist Ireland to work on a plan for unification: Gerry Kelly

By Staff Reporter

A senior Sinn Fein MLA has called on all the nationalist parties on the island to work together to deliver a united Ireland.

Delivering a speech in Co Mayo to commemorate the 1981 hunger strikes, Gerry Kelly also paid tribute to the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and said the political institutions at Stormont should be re-established.

"I challenge the leaders of the SDLP, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fail to stop hiding behind the mantra of now is not the time to discuss unity. One hundred years on since 1916, as we face into Brexit, now is the time not only to discuss unity, but to plan and deliver Irish unity," he said.

He added: "Sinn Fein wants an Ireland that is defined by hope, prosperity and opportunity for all citizens irrespective of their age, gender, religious persuasion, cultural identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."

He paid tribute to the former Deputy First Minister and the 1981 hunger strikers, 10 of whom died during the protest.

The North Belfast MLA also insisted that Sinn Fein wanted Stormont back up and running.

"We want the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement reinstated but on the basis of equality, mutual respect and integrity," he told the audience.

"The present talks, now stalled, are about implementing agreements already made. That is basic to a power-sharing Executive and Assembly."

Sinn Fein demands in the talks process include an Irish Language Act, a Marriage Equality Act, a Bill of Rights and measures to deal with legacy issues.

Mr Kelly said these were not unreasonable asks for people living in the north, "especially when they are rights everywhere else in Ireland and Britain".

Meanwhile, West Belfast MP Paul Maskey told the March for Truth rally organised by the relatives of the victims of the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre that Sinn Fein will continue to stand by the families and all victims of State violence who are campaigning for truth.

"Despite numerous reports highlighting the extent of collusion between British State forces and loyalist murder gangs, the British are attempting to deny the truth that everyone knows," he said.

"The frustration at continued cover-up by the British State recently found expression in the High Courts.

"Justice Stephens called on the PSNI to provide information to the courts in compliance with court orders after years of delaying tactics.

"And Justice Treacy recently called for an overarching inquiry into the activities of the infamous Glenanne Gang, which included members of the UDR and RUC and which murdered around 130 people, including the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, which claimed 33 lives in 1974."

The Sinn Fein representative added: "The British Government has abjectly failed to deal with the legacy of the past and the role of its forces and agents in numerous murders of citizens.

"Time and again we have seen this from Ballymurphy to Loughinisland to Springhill.

"But we will not let them rewrite history.

"Sinn Fein is committed to standing by relatives of victims of State violence and ensuring the mechanisms on dealing with the past in the Stormont House and other agreements are implemented fully."

Belfast Telegraph

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