Bertie Ahern talking to the Seanad today, laid out the long promised framework of participation of Northern Irish voices in the Oireachtas. Hat tip Dave.
In a context where progress is being made and trust and confidence are being restored, there is also an opportunity to address the issue of Oireachtas participation by Northern representatives. As I stated in the Dáil, what I will propose will be sensible but modest. It will be faithful to the recommendations of the All-Party report. There is no question of granting Northern Ireland MPs speaking rights in the Dáil.
Nor will our proposals cut across the architecture of the Good Friday Agreement. It can moreover complement the North-South parliamentary forum under the agreement, which we hope to see established soon.
The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body is already in existence and thriving. There is also a distinguished history of Northern appointees to this House to build on.
He’s also pointed out that there is no question of Unionists having simply to comply with the wishlists of their opponents: “They have to be persuaded and convinced that they can trust those who seek their trust”.
“We cannot just talk past them about what we want. If we are to talk of unity, let us talk of uniting people and not just territory. A shared future will not come easy. Apart from making political progress, we need to make progress in the hearts and minds of all of the people. We need to confront sectarianism and hatred wherever we see it, on all sides”.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty