I would especially ask those who are usually described as ‘dissident’ to recognise the potential that this initiative holds.
There is now a democratic and peaceful way to bring about Irish unity. There is no reason whatever for any group to engage in or promote or support violent actions.
The challenge for thinking republicans is to find ways to engage with and to listen to the concerns and ambitions of our unionist neighbours.
As the anniversary of the Easter Rising approaches I want to appeal directly to groups which claim to follow in that tradition to reflect on their position.
Now is the time for them to show courage and in the spirit of the 1916 Proclamation to embrace a peaceful way forward.
Sinn Féin wants a date for a border poll to be set and held within the lifetime of the next Assembly and Oireachtas. During this time we will be actively seeking to persuade unionists and non-unionists and all those who may at this time be opposed to Irish unity, or ambivalent on it, to join with us in making it happen.
That is a significant challenge but one I believe we are up to and can succeed in.
This is a phase of political activity that is about persuasion; it’s about democratic conversations and winning support for Irish unity.
Violent actions will not assist this process. Violent actions will make the task of achieving a YES vote more difficult. So, consider the options. Examine the possibilities. And don’t miss this opportunity.
I believe Irish unity makes sense. I believe it makes political and economic sense and that it is in the best interests of the people of these islands.
The Good Friday Agreement provides a legislative, peaceful anddemocratic route to Irish unity. A Border Poll is the means.
So, let the people decide!