Sinn Féin’s Gearóid Ó hEára has welcomed the call for respect made by Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin at a St Patrick’s event at Stormont.
The Foyle Westminster candidate, who attended the event, said that as part of our journey towards a fair and just society, people here needed to concentrate on the economy and job creation but also address the mindset that created this situation.
“This is about reconciliation and peace building,” Mr Ó hEára said.
“Republicans in Derry and across the north take this responsibility seriously and are striving to create a society that is inclusive and based on respect and equality.
“This involves reaching out to our fellow citizens in the unionist community and convincing them that we are serious about tackling the differences that exist between us.
“This is not just about tolerance but acceptance of the cultural, political and religious differences and of the people who espouse these differences.
“Acceptance, which, within the bounds of equality of treatment, means almost unconditional acceptance of the other.”
Mr Ó hEára added that the task facing all of us, especially in the north west, is not just the unravelling of decades of neglect and discrimination which has left people impoverished in terms of employment opportunities and the infrastructural support, but also to work at reconciling all of the cultures which exist in our society.
“We all have to share this small island and despite the need to deal with the past with compassion and understanding, we can’t let our past differences hold us back from creating a future based on political, religious and cultural equality,” he said.