On April 6th I made a direct appeal to the men and women volunteers of the IRA. This appeal was based on my belief that there now exists, for the first time in the history of our struggle, the opportunity to achieve republican objectives through purely peaceful and democratic methods.
Today's decision by the IRA to move into a new peaceful mode is historic and represents a courageous and confident initiative. It is a truly momentous and defining point in the search for a lasting peace with justice. I commend the commitment of those who have taken this decision and I appeal for unity and solidarity among all Irish republicans on the island of Ireland and beyond and for the struggle to be carried forward with new energy and enthusiasm.
The IRA decision presents an unparalleled challenge and opportunity for every nationalist and republican.
There is an enormous responsibility on us to seize this moment and to make Irish freedom a reality. I would urge all Irish nationalists and republicans, including those who have shown such commitment as volunteers of the IRA to put their undoubted talents and energy into building a new Ireland.
Today's IRA initiative also presents challenges for others.
In my April appeal I made the point that commitments, including commitments from the two governments were reneged on in the past. History will not be kind to any government which plays politics with today's developments.
There is now no possible excuse for the British and Irish governments to not fully and faithfully implement the Good Friday Agreement.
In particular this means an end to pandering to those unionists who are rejectionist. It means the British government must urgently address the demilitarisation, equality and human rights agendas.
It means the Irish government actively promoting the rights and entitlements of all of its citizens, including those in the north. It means the Irish government actively promoting Irish unity.
It means that unionists who are for the Good Friday Agreement must end their ambivalence. And it is a direct challenge to the DUP to decide if they want to put the past behind them, and make peace with the rest of the people of this island.
Today's IRA statement can help revive the peace process; it deals with genuine unionist concerns and removes from the leadership of unionism its excuse for non-engagement.
Republicans should not be surprised that our opponents will continue to try to defeat us. And in the short-term initiatives by the IRA are unlikely to change the attitude of those who oppose us whether in London or Dublin or within unionism. We can expect this to continue until we succeed in our endeavours.
Today's statement by the IRA is clear evidence of the commitment of republicans to the peace process. Republicans are leading by example.
I am very mindful that today will be an emotional one for many republicans. I am particularly conscious of all those who have suffered in the conflict. I want to extend my solidarity to the families of our patriot dead and to commit myself and our leadership to continue our efforts to win Irish freedom.
I am also conscious of the many other families, on all sides who have suffered. Let us all do everything we can to ensure that no one else dies as a result of conflict in our country.
The road map is clear. Sinn Fein is a party looking forward.
We want to see an end to British rule in our country. We want to make partition history.
We have a vision of a new future, a better future, and we have the spirit and the confidence to work with others to achieve this. Irish republicans and nationalists are now in a new area of struggle. There is a role for everyone in this new situation. Nation building is too important to leave entirely to politicians.
Let us move forward together to re-build the peace process and deliver Irish unity and independence.
National liberation struggles can have different phases. There is a time to resist, to stand up and to confront the enemy by arms if necessary. In other words there is a time for war. There is also a time to engage. To reach out. To put war behind us all.
There is a time for peace. There is a time for justice. There is a time for rebuilding. This is that time. This is the era of the nation builders.