The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood addressed yesterdays Ireland’s Future conference at the Waterfront Hall. Here is what I thought was a key part of his speech.
There’s no point in offering a challenge to others if we don’t first challenge ourselves.
Those of us who believe in a New Ireland need to offer a credible and positive vision – we will not protest our way into one.
Those who have deliberately enflamed the narrative that unionism as whole is unchanging, don’t believe in rights, and can’t be worked with – those people are wrong.
That cannot be the basis of our vision – this is not 1968 and we are not 2nd class citizens.
I for one am tired of hearing that argument.
We diminish ourselves by its repetition and we diminish the power and progress which has been secured by previous generations.
Those generations ensured that we now possess the power to shape our future – so let’s shape it.
And, this is the key point.
We do not seek a New Ireland because we are victims of an old oppression – we seek a New Ireland because it offers all of us opportunity.
That is the only basis through which it will come to pass.
In the time ahead, all of us committed to building that New Ireland must reflect on the message and its messenger.
If we can’t provide a place of opportunity and belonging for our unionist neighbours – then it simply isn’t worth having.
Because the old truism of politics is that people will always opt to vote for something rather than against something.
You can also watch a part of it here
— #Think32 (@Think32_) January 26, 2019
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs