United Ireland based on equality

My vision of a United Ireland is based on equality. It is vital that the same rights, protections and inclusions Nationalists have sought within Northern Ireland while it is in the Unitied Kingdom are equally guaranteed to unionists within a United Ireland.

Unity in Ireland must be founded on the principals of a shared society of equals. It must evoke the strong ethos of equality set down in Good Friday Agreement.

The best context for holding and winning a referendum is when it is clear that the Agreement is fully bedded down and that all its protections will continue regardless of the referendum's outcome. A majority is most likely to vote for a United Ireland when reassured that it is neither a vote against the Agreement nor a vote for constitutional uncertainty.

Achieving a majority for Irish unity any time soon will require the persuasion of some unionists. It will also require the reassurance of many others. My party has always stood for peace and partnership and only we can persuade a majority in the North in favour of unity - just as we persuaded a majority of the North in favour of the Good Friday Agreement.

That is why only the SDLP can deliver a United Ireland.