Robinson urges end to sectarian divide

Published Saturday, 26 November 2011
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First Minister Peter Robinson has called for Catholics and Protestants to unite to end sectarian division and create a shared society with respect for all traditions in Northern Ireland.

The DUP leader was speaking in his keynote speech to the party during their annual conference in Co Down on Saturday.

He said the current economic troubles will pass, but the greatest challenge over the next few years will be to "rebuild" society in NI.

Mr Robinson explained that this can be achieved by combining education services and promoting a shared community.

"I don't want a society where people live close together, but live separate lives," he said.

"The conflict of the last forty years created terrible divisions. It became a case of 'them and us'. And that attitude deepened divisions further.

"If we want a better society it can't be 'them and us'. It can only be 'all of us'."

The First Minister argued the support of all communities will secure the region's place in the UK, but said the task will be to persuade rather than to defeat.

He said recent surveys have revealed over half of Catholics want the union to remain.

"Bobby Sands once said that the IRA's revenge would be the laughter of their children. Such narrow vision," he continued.

"There has been too much talk of revenge, too much talk of victory or defeat. The DUP's ambition will be the laughter of all our children, playing and living together, with a future that doesn't see them having to leave our shores, but wanting to live here, in NI, within the United Kingdom."

The DUP leader also said an "open and honest opposition" must be achieved at Stormont.

He said: "We must work towards a more normalised form of government, with an Executive and an open and honest opposition - not a fifth column that operates from within the ranks of the Executive itself.

"That would be a real sign of political maturity. Not because it's good for unionism but because it's good for democracy."

Mr Robinson outlined plans to attract 10,000 party supporters in the next two years - including from a nationalist background - and measures to promote the role of women in politics.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and ministers Arlene Foster, Edwin Poots and Nelson McCausland also spoke at the event on Saturday afternoon.

The First Minister said his party is now stronger than ever before, but added their aim going forward must be to build on that by widening their appeal.

He said: "This party alone can't dictate the future, but we can place issues at the centre of public debate and force others to justify their obstruction.

"There can be no greater legacy than a more shared and united community."

© UTV News
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38 Comments
JT in Antrim wrote (967 days ago):
Well Derry forever, as far as i'm aware Northern Ireland was formed on 3rd May 1921. Prior to this, Ireland was one country, ruled as part of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland. Republicans had a little get together in 1916, the Easter Rising, you may have heard of it, which lead to partition, which neither unionists or nationalists wanted. Sorry I haven't read that book you recommend, as I like to deal in facts, not a jaunty republican tune I heard down the pub. How far back would you like me to go prior to 1900? When the Celts invaded and killed and subdued the locals? Perhaps then the Vikings? After all, there's nothing more Irish than a Dane. Or is it just the Brits you want to talk about?
Lucie in Belfast wrote (968 days ago):
Let's look more closely at the some of the endeavours promises and failures over the years of the Democratic Unionist Party. NO SURRENDER THE RED BERRY's NEVER NEVER NEVER, NOT IN OUR TIME. PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE (sorry I forgot about Sammy) SACK CLOTH & ASHES PAISLEY'S RIOTOUS DEMONSTRATIONS (against the Presbyterian Church) ALL BROKEN PROMISES AND D.U.P. FAILURES. Now Peter after all of this wants Roman Catholics to join the Democratic Unionist Party. SOME HOPE. I would advise any decent Roman Catholic ( and by the way, I'm not a Roman Catholic ) who supports the Union to vote -- Ulster Unionist -- at least they are free from would be insulting comedians at Political Party Conferences
Niall in Armagh wrote (968 days ago):
JP just because you want something to be true doesn't make it true, what history books are you reading? something made up to make unionists feel like poor wee victims no doubt
doire abu in doire wrote (968 days ago):
JT - utter nonsense! Republicans created NI? Are you for real? I'm sure there's an 'Irish History for Dummies. the Blinkered, the Bigoted, or the Completely Irrational' out there for you. And when you read it, try to start a little further back than 1900
JT in Antrim wrote (968 days ago):
Not sure about anyone else, but the school I went to was fully mixed with all creeds, colours and religions, yet because it doesn't say integrated before it, everyone is classed as a protestant. And Seamus, unionisn isnt inherently anti-catholic, think that would be the orange order discussion your thinking of. Think back a bit further, who creared Northern Ireland? Republicans of course. Who has ensured that protestants will never give in due to their wholesale slaughter? mmm that would be republicans again. If they had of welcomed the Unionist minority at the turn of the 20th century, instead of trying to kill them off, perhaps Northern Ireland would never even have existed, but we'll never know.
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