Centenary is a ‘moment for reflection’ - Derry MP

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that the centenary of partition and the foundation of Northern Ireland provides a ‘moment of reflection for people across Ireland’.

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 12:35 pm
Press Eye - Northern Ireland -3rd August 2020 - SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood addresses the press on the steps of the Guildhall, Derry.

The Foyle MP has called for an ‘open and generous’ conversation about the constitutional future and how the needs of people in this new venture can be best met.

He said: “The partition of Ireland and foundation of Northern Ireland 100 years ago is an important part of the common history of people across this island. This event, more than many others, has had a profound political, economic and cultural impact on the lives of all those who share this island.

“That is why this should be a moment of reflection for all of us. I recognise and respect that for many people, Northern Ireland is a critical part of their identity and I absolutely want them to have the space to celebrate that. I want them to take pride in our shared history, our common culture and everything that makes our island experience unique. But for many, partition was an act of immense constitutional trauma that severed relationships, economic opportunities and created a new state where sectarian discrimination was hardwired into the institutions of government. That’s also why the experience of communities like mine, and of people like me, are critical to this story and should be heard. But in this moment, we have an opportunity to set aside the enmity and distrust of our past. This is a moment to begin a new conversation about our shared future.”

Mr Eastwood said this must be a conversation about how we address the oppression of poverty in our communities, how we provide high quality housing for everyone who needs it, how we reorganise our health services for a changing population and, ultimately, how the needs of our people could be better met in a new Ireland.

“100 years on from a moment of immense constitutional upheaval, we find ourselves at another fork in the road. It’s time we had a meaningful conversation about where we go next,” he said.