Below is an extract from speeches at the Magill Summer School in Glenties and the Galway International Arts Festival.
“Politics here is failing to improve the daily lives of people in the here and now. With the corruption and defects of Stormont laid bare, it is easy to conclude that this place is ungovernable. But someone has to govern it, someone will be taking decisions every coming day, and collectively we have to decide if we want that to be in a way that is accountable and consistent with principles of power-sharing.
I owe much of my politics to John Hume, whose ethos was based on the idea that a New Ireland wasn’t about borders or flags, but about building relationships of mutual respect and trust on issues that transcend the constitution.
Nationalists must understand that closer North/South integration can’t properly evolve without co-operation and reconciliation within the North. Unionists must understand that maintaining the Union can’t come without respect and accommodation within Northern Ireland.
Nationalists and Unionists have to reassure each other that they each haven’t checked out of the ‘Strand One’
relationships in pursuit of their preferred constitutional change.
We need somehow to get back to those basics – politics built on relationships, respect for difference,
and an understanding that Unionist and Nationalist identities mutually exclusive, fixed at birth or the sum total of who people are.”