SDLP Leader replies to voices of Northern Nationalism
The Foyle MLA said:
“As a leader of Irish Nationalism, I felt duty bound to respond to those who had signed the open letter to An Taoiseach.
“In welcoming the letter, I have written to confirm that I share much of the analysis expressed by these voices that northern nationalism finds itself simmering with frustration and concern. I agree with the letter’s assessment that northern nationalism does not find itself in a good place.
“However, I felt it was important to share my analysis and my assessment that much of our frustration emanates from the fact that nationalist opinion in the North is currently without power or place.
“The dangerous reality of our politics is that the only local party shaping our political present and future is the DUP – we therefore have every right and every reason to worry. This initiative by these signatories is welcome, however highlighting frustration and concern will not in itself be enough.
“Nationalism across this island deserves a better strategy than the one which has left us with no Assembly, no voice in the context of Brexit and is placing us at the mercy of a coalition between the DUP and the Tories at Westminster.
“It deserves a better strategy than the one which left no legacy of substantial economic or social success after 10 years at the top of government. It deserves a better strategy than the one which is no closer to reconciling with or persuading the unionist people of this island.
“While I freely acknowledge the electoral strength of Sinn Féin, they can’t escape the truth that every extra vote and every extra seat has done nothing to strengthen the position of northern nationalism. In fact it has resulted in a return to British Direct Rule.
“As a political leader it is my responsibility to lead people in order that we can break free from that failed strategy. I firmly believe re-establishing northern nationalism’s power and place can only be done through the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. The only way our fundamental rights will be delivered as Irish citizens, especially as Brexit unfolds, is by having a local Executive and Assembly.
“The disrespect of the DUP towards any semblance of Irishness should not push us to abandon that ground – the ground which we built. My message to the public is that we must choose a strategy which doesn’t just read mood but instead seeks to deliver for all our interests.”