I am writing to add my voice to the conversation within nationalism and republicanism initiated by the SDLP MLA Declan O'Loan.
As chairman of Down Fianna Fáil, it is not for me to comment on any internal SDLP policy matters which arise as a result of the North Antrim MLA's analysis.
But it would be unwise not to recognise that his comments have a broader significance beyond the future of any single party.
We are all in a new political environment.
In such times, many might well wonder whether the static |nationalist/republican party |politics of the past still fit the needs of the North today.
For this reason, Mr O'Loan's contribution offers a timely |opportunity to assess the direction of republicanism in the North and across this island we all share.
Republicanism's future, by |definition, must be all-island based. Most definitely, a ‘shared future' in the North is fundamental to the delivery of a ‘shared |future' in the form of Irish unity.
But a new relationship with unionism rests not on abandoning the age-old republican principle of ‘Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter', but instead applying our thinking to 21st century Ireland.
Just as unionism will seek to show that the Union is no longer a ‘cold place' for nationalists, it is the obligation of all nationalists and republicans to show that we can create a welcoming home for unionists. To do this, a certain convergence in nationalist and republican thinking must evolve
All stakeholders have an opportunity to engage in a frank conversation about this future.
Chairman, Down Fianna FaiI