The SDLP will deliver a united Ireland, leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell has said.
Dr McDonnell MP MLA gave a keynote speech to the SDLP’s Slieve Gullion branch where he outlined his vision for a United Ireland and the role of the SDLP as persuaders for it.
He told the gathered audience how militants in the republican movement allowed unionists to keep a stranglehold on the north of Ireland and how "the DUP and Sinn Féin pact in the Executive is gutting the Good Friday Agreement, dividing the community and denying the people a shared future".
He continued:" We want reconciliation and a shared future here and now, and we want to continue our mechanisms of reconciliation into a United Ireland so that it genuinely is a New Ireland. Reconciliation and persuasion are essential to progress towards a new Ireland, but what is happening right now in the north will take us in the opposite direction. We must map out a different future – no one else can do it for us.
"We believe that all the rights, protections and inclusion that nationalists have sought within Northern Ireland while it is in the United Kingdom must equally be guaranteed to unionists within a United Ireland. That would mean in our united Ireland the Assembly and Executive would continue to run things in the north....This is not just our united Ireland, it is our New Ireland, the unique selling proposition of the SDLP.
He said: “Achieving a majority for Irish unity any time soon will require the persuasion of some unionists and the reassurance of many others. Because we have always stood for peace and partnership, only the SDLP can persuade a majority in the north in favour of unity - just as we persuaded a majority of the North in favour of the Good Friday Agreement – and it will involve being major persuaders in the South too. That is why only the SDLP can deliver a United Ireland.”