Eastwood: Rising commemorations must embrace citizens of North
Mr Eastwood was speaking at the SDLP’s Annual Conference 2014, where delegates debated an emergency motion on the Dublin Government’s plans for commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising.
“The announcement this week by the Irish Government of their planned commemorative events for 2016 is welcome news. The SDLP believes it’s essential that these events are inclusive of all traditions but also inclusive of the whole of the island.
“People of the North have been central to many of the historical events in Irish history and we look forward to playing our part in commemorating events of 1916 and setting out a new vision for the future of this island.
“Unfortunately, over the years the word ‘republican’ has been abused and bastardised and continues to be, in a way that runs contrary to the defining principles of uniting Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
“The SDLP believes that 100 years on from the Easter Rising it’s time to see the fulfilment of those principles of republicanism in an outward-looking, modern Ireland. This can only happen when inclusive of all the citizens of Ireland.
“That is nowhere more important than within the structures of the Oireachtas. The process of embracing Irish citizens north and south in a new Ireland must begin with the restructuring of the Seanad. That is where the example of inclusivity must be set.”