133 years ago, in the House of Commons, a remarkable thing happened. A British Prime Minister spoke in favour of Irish Home Rule, just 40 years after the repeal of the Corn Laws. That Prime Minister’s name was William Ewart Gladstone, and his altering stance only came about as a result of Irish parliamentary representation.
To this day, that same representation has produced groundbreaking changes to the lives of Irish people, both before and beyond the partition of Ireland. It led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It led to the formation of the Northern Irish Assembly, giving both communities a chance to come together and collaborate. Now, it has the potential to help Irish people move beyond thin accords of peace, and seek a new age.
Unfortunately, the powers that be have prevented that. Extremism from both communities has led to the Assembly in Stormont collapsing, time and time again. You now have a situation where nationalist parties, having been infiltrated by those who seek to undermine peace, fail to properly engage with the political process. That is nothing short of a disgrace, and the Irish Parliamentary Party form today to provide a new consensus in Northern Irish politics.
As a nationalist party, we recognise the end goal should always be to ensure a recoupling of north and south, but equally, we see it fit that all communities work together in the present to ensure that Northern Ireland is healthy, happy, and bursting with life. It is no use even entertaining reunification if we do not have the tools or resources to work with.
We will also seek to obtain representation in the Palace of Westminster, recognising that rejection of the system does not give us a proper opportunity to work within it. We will work alongside anyone who feels it their duty to help build Northern Ireland, 21 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, and shall not look upon political figures according to rosette, but according to their values.
We hope you will join us on this journey.