This is part of the speech that Kearney gave on Easter Sunday at Milltown:
Some republicans oppose the peace process by militarist and political means. There is a political imperative upon us to attempt purposeful engagement with all republicans; and that includes those who oppose Sinn Féin.
Increased dialogue and engagement with the wider unionist and Protestant community is also essential.
That presents a huge challenge for us. Unionists continue to harbour suspicions about republicans.
Unionists have been hurt by the war; and so too have republicans.
W.B. Yeats wrote that too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. Republicans have endured many sacrifices indeed, but our hearts have never turned to stone.
The war changed our lives, but not our humanity. We share this place with the unionist and Protestant people, and we also share a collective humanity with them.
The end to war gave way to an irreversible peace process and the now stable political institutions. We are right to be satisfied at our progress: but we have no right to be complacent.
We need to keep moving the peace process into new phases, and onto new ground.
National reconciliation is integral to our strategic project. It is the basis from which to persuade for, and to build a new Ireland.
We are agents of change which means the status quo for us is not good enough. Bringing about an Ireland at peace with itself is a pre requisite to achieving our ultimate aim of an Ireland of Equals.
So it is time to begin discussing how shared hurts can be acknowledged, lessened, and if possible healed.
Part of that will mean attempting to better understand each other, and trying to imagine what it might be like to walk in each other’s’ shoes – to identify with, and make sense of, our different experiences.
None of that will be possible without an authentic reconciliation process. And this will require new conversations between republicans and the unionist and Protestant community.
And there is never a right moment for that type of dialogue.
However, we may wait indefinitely if we are to wait on others to engage with new thinking and accept the inevitability of taking next steps.
Our generations of republicans are confident about the future and how to go forward; because we are visionaries; leaders; and nation builders.
We have inherited the proud tradition of Tone, Mc Cracken and Hope – absolutely dedicated to breaking the connection with England, but also achieving the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.
Our strategy sits on a long term trajectory. It needs to be constantly energised with new challenges and momentum. Had we waited for others during watershed moments over the past twenty years then we would not be here today.
This now is another time for republicans to think long-term, and imagine the new possibilities which can emerge from national reconciliation in our time, for the benefit of future generations.
Ninety years ago the civil war raged in Ireland. In its aftermath nothing was done to reconcile the seismic hurt and fractures caused.
The result was trans-generational divisions which lasted for decades.
We can stop history repeating itself by leading on the priority for an inclusive reconciliation process, in which all sections of our society listen and engage unconditionally with each another, and on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Republicans should listen carefully to the diverse voices from within the wider unionist and Protestant community.
Those voices from that community which are committed to engagement and making common purpose based upon an acceptance of our shared humanity.
Voices which recognise the importance of taking our peace and political processes into a new future.
There are indeed new possibilities to be explored, with imagination, generosity, new language, and new thinking.
Authentic reconciliation needs a process in which dialogue is unconditional, language is humanised, and all voices are heard – republican, unionist, loyalist, and nationalist.
But authentic reconciliation is not a one way street.
Political unionism has a responsibility to positively embrace this opportunity, and engage with the rest of us. And it should do so.
Republicans and unionists are partners in government. We should also become partners in reconciliation.
As Republicans across Ireland reflect on the Proclamation this Easter, and the new society it envisaged, we should give deep consideration to what more we can do to help meaningfully heal divisions in our country, and build national reconciliation.
2 thoughts on “Extract from Declan Kearney’s speech”
Thanks, Lesley. Like you I think this is worth following. Great to see you last week.
Hello Lesley, Let us use all the positive language that we can to bring people on board. In the final analysis it is what we do which will win the day. Please read my letter in the Presbyterian Herald March
2012 p9 which spells out what to do as a people, as a congregation, as a church, as a community. For church is community. The plasma of peace is very thin and frail and easily ripped and torn. But layers are building up from the hope and forgiveness that is being shown daily in the media between
adversaries. If the debate has to be carried by the media then they must be impartial and independent. By this open public debate we are going towards a restoration; a regeneration and hopefully a recreation of our community and society. God Bless.
In Gods service