30th March 2002
O Caoláin extends invitation to David Trimble to address Houses of the Oireachtas
Sinn Fein's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD addressing the Easter Commemoration in Monaghan on Sunday extended an invitation to David Trimble as First Minister in the Assembly and as leader of the Unionist Party to come and address a Joint Session of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "We have seen in recent times the beginning of a renewed debate on how Irish unity will be achieved. Republicans welcome this debate and while others have dismissed David Trimble's call for a referendum in the Six Counties next year, we have said that it would provide an opportunity to focus on the Irish unity debate.
"We recognise the fears and concerns of the unionist community. As people who have experienced second-class citizenship the last thing republicans wish to do is to impose such conditions on any other section of the community. We accept the challenge to persuade others of the benefits of Irish unity and national sovereignty. While they cling to the remnants of the British Empire, while they hang on to the disintegrating state which is the United Kingdom - or should that be the disUnited Kingdom? - those of our people who are unionists can never fulfil their real potential. They will achieve far more influence and real political representation in a united Ireland, as distinct from privilege based on discrimination under the Union with Britain.
"As a first step they could look on the recently announced recommendation of the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution as heralding an important opportunity to be grasped. It would give them the opportunity to state their fears, their concerns and their constructive proposals regarding their future and our shared future as citizens on this island.
"David Trimble of course continues to offer the unionist people of the Six Counties a blinkered view of life in this part of Ireland. He has failed to see what is happening on his left and on his right and has completely failed to note the tide of change that is sweeping across the whole island. Much of it is good. Some of it is bad. But let us all seek to shape this change and direct it to the benefit of all who view this island as home.
"I extend an invitation to David Trimble as First Minister in the Assembly and as leader of the Unionist Party to come and address a Joint Session of the Houses of the Oireachtas as a first step. I have confidence that this invitation will be endorsed by the other political parties in the Oireachtas."
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