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31 March 2013 Edition

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Persuaders for a New Ireland

• Martin McGuinness at the Derry Sinn Féin AGM

'Equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem must apply to everyone' – Martin McGuinness

IF REPUBLICANS are to be persuaders for a New Ireland, a land of equals, we need to “respond appropriately to the fears and uncertainties of those who see us through different eyes than we see ourselves”, Martin McGuinness says.

“We want and need unionists to understand what we are about and what our politics is about and what it really means for them. The transformation of society must include addressing their needs.

“Equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem must apply to everyone.”

The joint First Minister told scores of activists at the Derry Sinn Féin AGM on 23 March:

“Struggle, by its very nature, brings many highs and many lows. I don’t have to tell you all of that. All of you will have first-hand experience of what that means over many long years of struggle. 

“We have a huge job of work ahead. We all know that. But we should remind ourselves now and again of just how much we have done and the progress we have made.

“This country — this entire island — North and South is undergoing a process of change, huge change, in every sphere of life, and not least on the political front.

“The political transformation in the earlier part of the Peace Process was up in lights. It was with the eyes of the world upon us and it was in the full glare of the media. The manifestations of the process of change were enormous and unquestionable. 

“The peace process — with Sinn Fein as a central player — brought us ceasefires, negotiations, political agreements, new political institutions, power-sharing government and an all-Ireland architecture, demilitarisation, release of prisoners, and new policing and justice arrangements.

“And one of most crucial lessons from the Peace Process is that change, once begun, has a dynamic that can build a momentum for further change.”

That process of change, the joint First Minister said, brings hope and confidence and surety to some but anxiety, fear and uncertainty to others.

“We want and need unionists to understand what we are about and what our politics is about and what it really means for them. The transformation of society must include addressing their needs.

“We have to continue to build, to deliver, to pursue a genuine reconciliation across our society, to tackle inequality wherever it arises and to eliminate sectarianism and racism and to build an Ireland that truly mirrors the promise of the Proclamation.”

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