Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today spoke at the Sinn Féin summer school ‘Scoil Shamhraidh na Saoirse’ which is taking place in Baile Bhuirne in West Cork. The summer school has a wide range of speakers on politics, the economy, sports, language and arts. The party’s website www.sinnfein.ie will carry regular updates throughout the weekend.
Among the key speakers are Frankie Gallagher (loyalist politician and chief spokesman for the UDA linked Ulster Political Research Group), Huginn Freyr Þorsteinsson (a Political Advisor to the Icelandic Minister of Finance), Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Jack O’Connor (General President of SIPTU), Danny Morrison and Pearse Doherty TD.
The Sinn Féin President called for a new Republic for the 21st century which is relevant for today and which reflects the views and opinions citizens across this island.
Mr. Adams said: “Sinn Fein is seeking a new republic for the 21st century that encompasses all the people of this island. Already there are many, including business leaders and some unionists in the north, who understand the economic value of building the all-Ireland economy.
“Ireland can be changed. But citizens need to be clear about the kind of new Ireland we want to create. That needs a national debate. If we are to renew and revitalise and construct a new Ireland – a new Republic – it has to be relevant for citizens today.
It must reflect the views and opinions of all our citizens; whether they are urban or rural; nationalist or unionist or republican or none; of all or no religion; young or old; disabled or from our new immigrants, and it needs to reach out to the diaspora.”
The Sinn Féin leader also spoke about the importance of engaging with unionists and of creating a new republic, a new Ireland in which they are comfortable.
“The construction of a new national democracy on the island of Ireland must involve reconciliation between orange and green.
“Nationalists and republicans must reach out to unionists and engage with them on the type of Ireland we want to create. Our responsibility is to ensure that unionists are comfortable and feel secure in a new Ireland. It has to be their Ireland also.
“So it must be a shared Ireland, an integrated Ireland, an Ireland in which unionists have equal ownership. That means republicans seeking to understand what unionists mean by Britishness.
“It means being prepared to seriously examine forms of institutional and constitutional arrangements and structures which may be different from those normally advanced by republicans.
“It means seeking to convince unionists that in a new Republic they would be citizens, not mere subjects, and entitled to rights not concessions.”
The Sinn Féin President said that key to this is building an equal society, one in which equality is at its core. He said: “Equality makes sense. Inequality costs society more.
“The elimination of inequality is not only possible, it is critically important, not least because it allows for the full mobilisation of the available creative human resources.
“For example, a person who cannot walk is not unequal because he or she uses a wheelchair, but because most buildings (including workplaces and schools) and transportation are designed in a way that excludes people who use wheelchairs.
“It takes only a few adjustments to allow for universal access.
“This principle applies more broadly. We are not inherently unequal. It is exclusive social and other structures that make us unequal. We can choose, either to perpetuate and reinforce these structures, or to change them to make them more inclusive. Just as inequality is socially constructed, it can also be dismantled.
“As a consequence, building an equal society is possible because it is a matter of public choice.”
Finally the Sinn Féin leader concluded:
“Sinn Féin wants to change the status quo, not to join it.
“Ireland today is a country in transition. There have been many positive developments in both states on the island. A lot of the old certainties have gone. A lot of the old conservative influences have been weakened. A lot of unfinished business still has to be completed, but progress has been made.
“Ireland is still partitioned and there is poverty and unemployment, and there are profound issues which need to be resolved between unionism and the rest of us.
But no one should minimise how much our society has changed, particularly in this last forty years or so.
“Sinn Féin’s goal is an Ireland built on positive change, on equality, on partnership. An Ireland where the wealth is invested creatively and more fairly and where our children wake up in homes that are warm.
“An Ireland in which our schools are properly resourced and where no one waits for a hospital bed, a home or a job.
“The resources exist to build this republic – the new Ireland. What is needed is political will and vision. We are inviting others to join us in this historic endeavour.” ENDS