Reconciliation in Ireland must involve reaching out to unionism and respecting unionist attachment to the British Royal family, Sinn Fein’s new MEP has said.
Martina Anderson, the former MLA for Foyle, was speaking at the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown, County Kildare, on Sunday.
The MEP told the crowd that Sinn Féin is working for the peaceful coming together of all the people in Ireland.
She said those who believe in Irish unity must reach out to unionists and engage “in the all-important discussions around the nature and form of future structures on this island.”
“Let me state very clearly that Sinn Féin fully acknowledges the attachment that many within the unionist section of Irish society have to a sense of Britishness and to symbols and institutions such as the English Royal family – and we respect that.
“The United Ireland we seek to create is pluralist, where all the elements of the Irish nation are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity, including those Irish people who wish also to express a British identity”, she said.
Ms Anderson said that currently Unionists remain isolated on the margins of the British political system where they make up less than 2% of the population.
“In a united Ireland unionists would make up 20% of the population and exercise real authority, power and influence – as opposed to being bit players in the House of Commons.
“Shaping a genuine national reconciliation process crucially involves increased understanding, respect and reaching out to those from the unionist tradition.”
Her comments come amid continued speculation that deputy first minister Martin McGuinness may meet the Queen during her visit to the north later this month.