Sinn Féin national chairperson Declan Kearney has said the peace process has reached a “defining point” and urged parties to confront the legacy of the past.
Delivering a keynote address at the Sinn Féin ard fheis in Wexford, the Claudy man said a process of genuine reconciliation is needed to tackle sectarianism and aid political progress.
“A defining point has been reached in the peace process,” he said. “It is no longer an option to simply manage the peace while extremists peddle wreckers’ agendas. A new phase based upon reconciliation is needed.
“Only an authentic reconciliation process will foster the new relationships and trust we need,” he added.
The senior Sinn Féin leader also called on unionist leaders to reconsider their opposition to the Haass proposals on dealing with flags, parading and the past.
“Leadership and compromise are flip sides of the same coin. Each are needed to make society work well. Realistically some within and outside the Haass negotiations didn’t accept the need for compromise. Indeed, some sections of political unionism don’t want to compromise on anything. They should revisit the political legacy of David Ervine,” he said.
Mr Kearney said a “dedicated reconciliation strategy” is needed in the North. “Sinn Féin believes an act of common acknowledgement by all sides, for the suffering experienced and inflicted by all sides, should be agreed as a contribution to a healing process,” he said.
The county Derry man called for a Bill of Rights to be implemented in the North and the reestablishment of a civic forum as part of the reconciliation process.