‘The work of reconciliation must continue and deepen’ – McDonald

Despite frustrations with the political process, reconciliation must continue and must deepen. It must involve all in the community and every section of society, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has said.

Commenting after addressing a Newgate Arts Festival event in Derry where she shared a platform with the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson and Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie, she warned that reconciliation remains the missing piece of the peace process.

She commented: “The scenes we witnessed in this city just a few weeks ago show how fragile the situation remains within many communities and there is an onus on all of us as political leaders to ensure that is not the case.

“We must all embrace the reconciliation phase of the peace process. To reach out, to listen and to find the common ground.

“That requires leadership. That requires being able to reach out the hand of friendship and it requires being able to negotiate, agree and deliver political accommodations.

“Earlier this week I shared a platform at Belfast Pride with loyalists, unionists, nationalists, and members of the Alliance and Greens. There was a diversity of political opinion and experiences. However we shared common ground on the needs to respect each other’s views and the need to uphold the equal rights of all.

“Ireland north and south is changing. It is no longer 1922, 1969 or 1981. Change is coming. A new generation is looking to political leaders to manage the process of change. They are looking to the future and so must we.

“A future free from the divisions of the past. A future of equal citizens with equal rights. United in all our diversity.

“A reconciled and peaceful society. There can be no going backwards.

“My party and I are up for the challenge of reconciliation, we need to hear the same from all parties.”