Throughout the course of the past 40 years, the SDLP has never deviated from its core values. We have always stood completely opposed to all violence, arguing that it was not only morally wrong but politically bankrupt as well because violence always destroys that which it claims to defend. From our earliest days - as illustrated in the 1972 Policy Document "Towards a New Ireland" - we argued for an agreement that addressed the three core sets of relationships; between Nationalists and Unionists in the North, between North and South, and between Britain and Ireland. These relationships are now at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. We have always fought for a policing service that is representative and accountable. Since joining the Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships, we have driven forward the Patten agenda and more change has been delivered in policing in recent years than in the previous eighty.
After so much violence and destruction, the Agreement saw other parties sign up to principles the SDLP had consistently advocated. Its endorsement in referendum represented the clear will of the people of Ireland, North and South. While the Agreement's implementation was frustrated for many years, the SDLP held nothing back and wants only to take the Agreement forward. We want to use the institutions of the Agreement as the tools with which we will generate a stronger economy, grow greater solidarity in our community and build a better society for all.