Martina Anderson: ‘It is now time to bring people of our island together’
New Foyle MLA believes there will be a united Ireland in her lifetime and says she will be “persistent and consistent” in standing up for the people of Derry
Martina Anderson is relishing the challenge of another stint in the NI Assembly.
The new Foyle MLA, who returns to the ‘house on the hill’ after an absence of seven-and-a-half years, insists she will be “loud and clear, consistent and persistent” as she “stands up for Derry”.
During her time away from Stormont, the Derry woman has, of course, been spearheading the anti-Brexit lobby in the European Parliament in her role as MEP.
However, this chapter in her political career came to an end just last week when the UK officially left the EU.
However, never one to rest on her laurels, it’s onwards and upwards for the Sinn Fein politician as she steels herself for her new role a bit closer to home.
“When it comes to representing the people of Derry and their needs, I make no apology for holding all ministers to account at Stormont. It’s a privileged position to be in and, as such, I will, just as I have done in Europe, give it my all,” she told the ‘Journal’ this week.
She acknowledges that she is rejoining the Assembly at a particular challenging time with the onset of Brexit. However, she is convinced that the skills set she developed and refined during her time in Brussels stands her in good stead for the time ahead.
“People know I have a track record of being strategic, persistent and convincing - particularly in holding the British government to account on living up to its commitments,” she added. “At Stormont, as in Brussels, I will continue to fight the corner of all those who put their faith in me.”
Martina Anderson also believes a pathway exists for NI to re-enter the EU through a referendum on Irish unity as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement
“The best way to protect our country from the dangers of Brexit is through Irish unity. I believe the EU can play a role in supporting the peaceful, democratic pathway to that objective. That’s why the debate on unity and the preparations for a referendum must be stepped up in the time ahead.”
Turning to politics in the North of Ireland, Martina Anderson says her party is absolutely committed to making genuine power-sharing work.
“It is my firm belief that we can all do this while still holding on to our distinct political identities and working in the best interests of all people.”
She says a stable power-sharing administration, working on the basis of openness, transparency and accountability, is a must.
“People out there want good government and we, in Sinn Fein, want our political institutions working for everyone.”
She also dismissed criticism of the NI Assembly from those who brand it as ineffective and no more than a “glorified super council”.
“Would a ‘glorified super council’ have been able to bin welfare reform? I don’t think so. As capital projects go, we, in Derry, arguably have the best schools estate - in particular for young girls - in the North. This couldn’t have been achieved without decisions taken by the late Martin McGuinness and others . So, to denigrate the Assembly as ineffective is wrong.”
Martina Anderson believes NI, indeed, Ireland, is entering a new era of politics and it is time for political parties to show “leadership, courage and creativity.”
She insists the best hope for the future is to “bring the people of our island together”.
“We face many challenges, but we also face many opportunities... People are demanding a new and better Ireland. It is time to transform our country and unite Ireland.”