Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD has released details of two major conferences the party is holding in Dublin and Cork to promote the objective of uniting Ireland.
The Dublin conference will be on Saturday 18 June in the Pillar Room at the Rotunda in Parnell Square and the second will be in Cork City Council Concert Hall on Saturday 25 June.
The Sinn Féin leader revealed that among those participating in the conferences will Brian Keenan, former Beirut hostage and Davy Adams, former UDP representative and Irish Times columnist.
They will participate in the ‘Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter’ section of the Dublin conference.
Others taking part in the conferences, all in an independent capacity, include economist, Dr John Bradley, formerly a research professor at the ESRI, Dr Pádraic White, former IDA managing director, who is also chairman of the Employers' Services Board West Belfast and Greater Shankhill. Other participants are: Michael Darcy, economist, GAA broadcasting legend Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Dr Ruan O’Donnell, historian, Ann Piggott, president Cork Council of Trades Unions and Fionnuala MacCurtain, the granddaughter of Tomás MacCurtain.
Deputy Adams said:
“Sinn Féin’s primary political goals are Irish reunification and the construction of a new national democracy on the island of Ireland, including reconciliation between nationalists and unionists.
“Sinn Féin is not alone in believing that uniting Ireland is desirable. The vast majority of citizens on this island, republicans and nationalist, support the goal of a united Ireland, but turning that aspiration into reality requires more than fine words.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides a legislative, peaceful and democratic route to achieve Irish unity.
“Partition is uneconomic. It holds back Ireland’s potential for economic growth. On an island this small it does not make sense to have two competing political systems, two health services, two education structures and two economic systems competing with each other for jobs and investment. Uniting Ireland makes political and economic sense, especially in a time of severe economic recession.
“Already, within the business community, there are many who accept the logic of an all-island economy or joined-up health services or agriculture. Sinn Féin is for shrinking the border and its adverse impact on the lives of citizens through practical co-operation and imaginative policies, including the full utilization of the all-island institutions that were created by the Good Friday Agreement.
“The people of this island, organised and working together, can overcome any obstacle and build a new and better society, based on equality, that works for everyone. And let us do it in our time.
“Advancing this requires republicans reaching out to and building a new relationship with unionists.
“Sinn Féin understands the importance of addressing the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way. We need to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness and be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts.
“I believe that the unionist people can find their place in a new Ireland, a shared Ireland. For this to happen they must have equal ownership.
“It will be a place in which there is political, social, economic and cultural equality. An Ireland in which there will be respect for cultural diversity.
“Making this happen requires a new dialogue. We want to build a national representative democracy that is owned everyone on this island and to set out how we can reach this historic goal and create the conditions for a united Ireland.
“That’s the rationale behind the two Uniting Ireland conferences this month,” he concluded.