SDLP boss: Dissidents are vain, insane and fighting the Irish people

Colum Eastwood is declared leader of the SDLP.
Colum Eastwood is declared leader of the SDLP.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has branded dissident republicans vain and insane and argued that they are not battling the British Government but the Irish people.

“This conference has a message for those so called dissident republicans whose combined vanity and insanity leads them to believe that they can push against this ocean of opinion,” he said on Saturday.

“They claim that they are in a fight with the British government.

“They are not. They need to know, they need to be made understand, that their fight is with us.

“It is with the Irish people.

“There can only ever be, there will only ever be, one winner in that battle.”

He also said he wants to persuade unionists to be nationalists, eventually.

“Yes we diverge on reunification but paradoxically we now hold more common ground with unionism than perhaps ever before.

“Our mantra and mission of making Northern Ireland work is that common ground.

“We need willing partners in Unionism to make it happen. I firmly believe that those relationships can be formed.

“I firmly believe that there are many in Unionism who will respond positively to that invitation.

“That’s a healthy common ground to hold for today and tomorrow.

“The constitutional change of the future will be the product of persuasion.”