15 June 2018
'A defining period in history' - O'Neill
"This is a defining period in our history. The opportunities for real change are within our grasp." - Michelle O'Neill
We are entering a defining period in Irish history and republicans must be prepared to challenge themselves and lead a process of change in order to deliver a unified, inclusive Ireland, Michelle O'Neill has said.
The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader made the comment in her keynote address at the opening session of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this evening.
The Ard Fheis got underway in Belfast's Waterfront Hall with more than 3,000 republicans from across Ireland, as well as international guests, expected to attend over the weekend.
It was opened by the recently elected Belfast Ard Mheara, Deirdre Hargey, who earlier welcomed Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Vice President Michelle O'Neill to Belfast City Hall.
In her speech, Michelle O'Neill said it is clear Ireland is changing and there is now a need for an inclusive debate about what the new Ireland will look like.
"This is a defining period in our history," she said.
"The opportunities for real change are within our grasp. It is a time to hear all voices within this debate.
"We must continue our journey of dialogue, of listening, of sharing ideas because in the New Ireland, there can only be a victory for us all," she added.
Michelle O'Neill called on republicans to lead the process of change.
"As republicans, we are about transforming and uniting our country for everyone, not ourselves alone.
"Let’s push ourselves, challenge ourselves, be confident in ourselves. Let’s lead the change, let’s bring people with us. Let’s shape our future together," she said.
The Sinn Féin MLA also said that everyone's rights would be protected in a new Ireland.
"It is our task to persuade people why it’s in their economic, cultural and political interests to share power not only at Stormont – but on an All-Ireland basis together.
"To assure people that all identities will be protected.
"That there will be guaranteed rights and entitlements for all in the New Ireland."
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AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
- It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
- There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.
An initiative for dialogue
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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures