Sinn Féin will hold a major party conference in Dublin today which brings together many of its recently successful Local Government and EU candidates, from across the island, as well as the party leadership.
In a keynote address, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD will set out the party’s priorities, its attitude to participation in government in the South and the current political situation in the North.
Gerry Adams will say:
“Today we will discuss our national strategic objectives and start putting in place our political, electoral and organisational strategy and work plan for the next 2 years. Our immediate priorities are:
· Negotiations and dealing with difficulties in the political process and peace process.
· By-elections and Westminster elections.
· Preparations for a General Election and Assembly elections.
· Preparations for the centenary of 1916 with a strong focus on Irish Unity.
· Engaging with unionism in all its forms, on issues of common ground.”
On the issue of government in the 26 counties Mr. Adams will say:
“It’s time Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil stopped pretending they are different. They are not. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are conservative soul mates. They should be in government together...
"For our part Sinn Féin needs to be ready for government in this state on our terms, agree our policy priorities and political platform and our commitments need to be deliverable.
"We are ambitious for change and believe we can deliver on jobs, housing and health.
"But we will not do what the Labour Party has done — we will not enter government merely to give cover to the agenda of conservative parties. That’s the old failed political system.
"Citizens want fundamental change. Sinn Féin seeks to offer a viable, do-able, political alternative.
"This will not be achieved by the creation of yet another right-wing conservative party offering repackaged versions of past failed policies.
"Despite the fervent wishes of the conservative media, this state does not need a ‘PDs Mark 2’, led by disgruntled Fine Gael TDs.
"The reality is that some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil has been in government since the foundation of this state. But just as one-party Orange rule in the North is gone, the failed, two-and-a-half party system in this state is going also.
"Today's gathering is further proof that Sinn Féin is now a major player in both states with policies and an expanding organisation, which transcends partition.
"It is time for a realignment of politics. Let those on the Irish left who really believe that a government without Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is possible begin working together towards that end.”
Commenting on events in the north Gerry Adams will say:
“There is now widespread concern about the situation within the DUP.
"It is quite clear that the DUP does not appear to have the appetite for the challenge of dealing with the outstanding issues of flags, parades and the past in any serious way.,
"Sinn Féin demonstrated very clearly during the Haass negotiations our seriousness and determination to find a way forward.
"We made compromises during those talks.
"For any process aimed at resolving these issues to succeed unionist political leaders need to show a similar willingness. That has not been evident so far.
"Despite this, there does exist a window of opportunity to resolve the issues of flags, parades and the past.
"Sinn Féin will meet separately with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Prime Minister David Cameron in the next few weeks.
"Party leaders in the Executive have agreed an intensive round of talks and Sinn Féin is engaging positively in this process.
"However to be successful the Irish and British governments must become more engaged in upholding and fulfilling their obligations
"We also need the continuing support of the US Administration, of political leaders on Capitol Hill and of Irish America.”