Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness said the entire Irish society and politics must change to convince unionists of the benefits of “a new republic.”
Mr McGuinness made the comments last night when he delivered the Eamonn Lafferty Memorial Lecture in the Creggan Sports Hall on the 40th anniversary of the IRA man’s death.
It was one of a number of events organised to mark the anniversary and followed a wreath laying ceremony in Kildrum Gardens yesterday afternoon at the site where the Creggan man was fatally wounded in a gun battle with British soldiers in August 1971.
Speaking in Creggan last night, Mr McGuinness said; “I believe that it is generally accepted that if we are to map our way towards Irish unity we need to do so in a manner that is both economically attractive and politically sensitive to those unionists who fear change will disadvantage them. We must change our politics, our economy and our whole society for the better. But we can’t do that without examining a fundamental issue – the way we govern ourselves. At present, Ireland has two states, North and South, and three governments in Dublin, Belfast and London.”
The Deputy First Minister also said economic arguments must be used. “I think that it is presently recognised across the political and economic spectrum that the way forward out of our current economic morass is through integrated economic structures for the island. We cannot expect to reach our full economic potential by maintaining two economic and political structures for a population of 6 million people.
“All the people who share this island would benefit from the creation of a vibrant, dynamic all-Ireland economy based on democratic control over Irish monetary and fiscal policies, an equitable and progressive tax regime, a harmonised vat, income tax and corporation tax and all-Ireland regulation of public and private sector business to ensure protection of the economic interests of the people of Ireland
“I have no doubt that by presenting the argument for Irish Unity in these non-threatening terms which will have a beneficial impact on peoples’ daily lives it will help convince a majority of those in the north of the benefits of Irish political as well as economic unity.”