Christmas and New Year message from Gerry Adams
Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh - Looking forward with confidence
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA in his Christmas and New Year message has said that we faces enormous challenges around jobs, housing, poverty, suicide, the environment, health, education and he identified the Bill of Rights and the transfer of power on policing and justice as key challenges for 2008.
Mr Adams said:
"2007 was a significant year. It witnessed momentous political progress on policing and following a deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP in March, the Assembly, the Executive and the all-Ireland institutions were restored in May.
"Achieving this was not easy. Moreover, the legacy of decades of institutional discrimination, conflict and British direct rule mean that society in this part of the island faces enormous challenges around jobs, housing, poverty, suicide, the environment, health, education and much, much more.
"But here too progress has been made. A recent example of this was the significant initiative taken by the Education Minister Caitriona Ruane to end the 11+ system of academic selection, and the inclusion of an explicit commitment in the Programme for Government that economic growth and Public Procurement - the buying power of the departments - will now be used to address inequality and tackle poverty.
"And for the first time the draft Budget, Programme for Government and Investment Strategy contains a commitment that all of these will be subject to Equality Impact Assessment.
"These are important advances but we now have to ensure that we collectively continue to make progress. There remain other vital areas of work to be completed around the Good Friday Agreement - specifically in the areas of the Bill of Rights; equality; the Irish Language, the north-south bodies and the transfer of power on policing and justice.
"So 2008 holds more challenges. Sinn Féin is an Irish republican party. Our priority objective is Irish re-unification. But we are also in the business of seeking to build the economy north and south to deliver strong public services; of tackling crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour, and of promoting the Irish language.
"The peace process has transformed Ireland in the last decade. It is tangible evidence that with political will further substantive progress can be made.
"On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to thank all of you who have supported our efforts to make progress, and to extend our warmest Christmas greetings and solidarity, and best wishes for the New Year ahead.
"Tá dul chun cinn ollmhór déanta ach ní bheidh scíste ag Sinn Féin go dtí go mbunófar Éireann Chomhionann, Aontaithe.
"Ar son Sinn Féin go raibh míle maith agaibh d'achan duine a thug tacaíocht dár n-iarrachtaí, beannachtaí na nollag agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh." ENDS