The SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said he it is his 'firm view' that as a result of Brexit, the union and the United Kingdom are coming to an end in 2021.
He gave the following New Year's message from the SDLP.
“2020 has been a year of huge challenge for everyone. We have lived under very difficult and unprecedented circumstances. Many people have sadly lost their lives this year, thousands of people to Covid-19. To those who have lost loved ones we pay our deepest sympathies.
“However many lives have also been saved, thanks to the actions of our communities. People have pulled together to protect each other and to protect our health service. We have come so far, with the end in sight thanks to the vaccine, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we must not give up. Today the SDLP is asking people to help us save more lives by staying home, do not have house parties, do not mix with others, please limit your contacts and ring in the new year safely. Covid is spreading, each of us must act to protect our loved ones.
“2021 will also see a fundamental shift in relationships across these islands as a result of Brexit. My firm view now is that the United Kingdom is coming to an end. I say that in the full understanding that many in my community will see the break-up of the union as a tragedy and I fully respect that position.
“Just because I believe the union is ending doesn’t mean I say it in a tone of thoughtless triumphalism. It instead places a solemn responsibility on us to manage relationships across these islands. Our scarred history places a moral duty upon us. We need to conduct the coming conversation with patience, care and compassion.
“The prize is to build a shared home place for all of our people.”
SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon said: “We spent the summer clapping for our key workers, all over Christmas, those same key workers have been on the frontline, working to save lives as Covid-19 spreads throughout our community. Daily deaths are continuing. We must do all that we can now, again, pull together by staying apart to save lives.
“This year will be unique and we are urging people to stay at home this evening. Video call friends and family, take pictures with your household bubble, record this moment safely and you can remember the important role you played in stopping the further spread of Covid-19.”