SDLP claims new united Ireland proposal is about ‘more than correcting historic wrong’

SDLP claims new united Ireland proposal is about ‘more than correcting historic wrong’

THE Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has revealed its proposal for a new, united Ireland and the principles it believes must be in place for it to work.

This week, the SDLP’s New Ireland Commission published a set of six core principles which the party claims will guide its work “towards building an inclusive new Ireland”.

It marks the start of a public consultation period being undertaken by the party, who hope to gain feedback from communities across the island of Ireland to inform their proposal further.

“The principles document sets out the Commission’s objective to engage with people and communities across Ireland, to explore their hopes, fears and ambitions for the future and to be led by on overriding goal to further reconcile the people who share this island,” they explain.

Their six core principles are reconciliation as a guiding force, embracing our diversity, no one left behind, led by citizens, future focused/outward looking and hope with honesty.

Speaking as the Commission launched its principles document, SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said: “As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, our politics and our fragile society continue to be buffeted by the headwinds of constitutional and economic change caused by a Brexit that the people of Northern Ireland did not support.

“The pace of change that has taken place over the last six years, in particular, has given many cause to stop and consider what a new future would look like.”

He added: “Since the SDLP launched the New Ireland Commission in 2021, a significant volume of engagement through private conversations within communities across Northern Ireland has already taken place.

“This work has been detailed, rich and necessarily candid.

“Now we are launching a period of public engagement with all those interested in the future of our island and it will be underpinned by six core principles which demonstrate our motivation in building a new Ireland for all our people.

“Central to these principles is our commitment that this is about more than simply uniting territory for us, it is about more than correcting some historic wrong.

“For the SDLP, building a new Ireland is the greatest opportunity to reconcile our people, maximise opportunity for every community and create something that is truly new, shared and better than what we currently live with. “

In 2021, the SDLP formally created the New Ireland Commission to “shape its contribution to the debate on constitutional change”, the party confirms.

As well as establishing an expert panel drawn from a range of backgrounds across the island of Ireland, since then the party’s elected representatives have engaged in private, focussed dialogue inside their communities, with a specific focus on private conversations with unionist communities.

Now its work to engage with the communities of the island of Ireland will be made public, something they claim it is the right time for.

“25 years after the agreement, and with the democratic institutions which gave it life still in suspension, now is the time for a new civic conversation about how the interests of our people are best served,” Mr O’Toole said.

“The SDLP believes the solution is in a new Ireland but we are engaging openly, hopefully and honestly with every community to determine what that could look like and what it would mean for them,” he added.