Respect and openness to stamp out sectarianism

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SDLP Deputy Leader Dolores Kelly has said mutual respect and openness about the past is the only way in which sectarianism can be stamped out of our society.

Addressing the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Conference in Dublin, the Upper Bann MLA said:

“By cultivating respect for different traditions it is hoped that we can build a better, shared future.

“We in the SDLP know how important it is to sell Northern Ireland, and that it is important work. But we are concerned that the narrative of economic advance disguises the fact that so much of the promise of the Good Friday Agreement remains unfulfilled.

“The Irish Language Act joins a queue of outstanding commitments overdue and not delivered upon. If we want to build a shared and a better society we must give urgent attention to the cornerstones of the new North. On dealing with our past on a principled basis, on language policy, equality, rights, social justice, tackling sectarianism and the whole shared society the news is not good.

“And with over 3,000 unsolved murders in the North we owe to the victims, their families and future generations to learn and tell the truth about the past.

“Many argue that we have peace but reconciliation is of course a further state. One which we must urgently seek to achieve as truth and reconciliation are inextricably linked and mutually dependent.

“The coming decade will see a series of anniversaries of momentous events - from the introduction of the Third Home Rule, the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912, The Great War and the Easter Rising, the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Partition and advent of the Civil War.

“If we approach each of these events with an openness to listen to the different narratives of the past, then not only will we have a better understanding of our shared history but also a better understanding of who we are now and how we can build a reconciled future, north and south and between these islands.”