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De Brún - Building an Ireland of Equals /Ag tógáil Éireann cothrom

19 October, 2003


Addresssing the Peadar O'Donnell Commemorative weekend in Dungloe, Co. Donegal, Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Bairbre de Brún said that "much progress has been made in recent times. We must now build upon that progress and ensure that elections go ahead and that the outstanding aspects of the Agreement are speedily implemented." Ms de Brún said:

" Peadar O'Donnell should by rights be as well known to young people throughout Ireland as Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly.  Pearse and Connolly in their writings and in their actions blended together the social and national aspects of Irish republicanism. Peadar O'Donnell did the same.  He was a revolutionary to his finger tips whether as a trade union organiser defending workers on strike in his native Donegal or Monaghan or Dublin or when he was engaging crown forces in the war of independence.

He was motivated to change the poverty he saw around him by changing the political and economic system that produced such injustice. His instincts were internationalist as well.  That is why he found himself on the barricades in Spain defending the Spanish republic against the fascists.

For Sinn Féin the only legacy fitting for men like Peadar O'Donnell must be the building a true national democracy on the island, where both political and economic power is distributed as widely as possible -an Ireland based on equality, justice, rights and empowerment.

Much of the impetus that comes from the Good Friday Agreement is about moving the centre of gravity politically from Britain to the island of Ireland, about building a bridge out of conflict, and about starting to undo the damage caused by partition. That is one of the reasons why its implementation has met so much resistance from elements within the British and unionist establishments, establishments fearful of change and resistant to equality.

In our recent negotiations with the British and Irish governments much of our focus has been on ensuring that the democratic imperative is returned to the process through the holding of the Assembly elections. It is our belief that the British government have now accepted the logic of this position.

But elections in themselves will not put the process back on track. But they can give the process a new dynamic, a new focus. What is required is for the outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement to be implemented. We have continued to demand from the two governments and the British government in particular implementation of commitments on policing, demilitarisation, human rights, criminal justice, equality and Irish language rights. These issues are stand alone and are not up for barter.

But much progress has been made in recent times. We must now build upon that progress and ensure that elections go ahead and that the outstanding aspects of the Agreement are speedily implemented." ENDS

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