Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Engaging with the DUP

5 August, 2008 - by Pat Sheehan

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking this morning at an event
in the Belfast Mayor Tom Hartley s office in Clarendon Buildings

This morning we again place our National Flag in the Office of
Belfast s First Citizen, Mayor Tom Hartley.Alex Maskey who was
Mayor of this city in 2002, and was the first Sinn Féin Mayor to
place the flag in the Mayor s Office, has this morning passed that
responsibility on.

I want to welcome Councillor Niall Quigley who is Mayor of Clones;

Cllr Thomas O Reilly, who is Chairperson of Fermanagh District
Council;; Cllr Martin Mc Colgan who is Chairperson of Omagh
District Council; and Cllr Brenda Chivers, who is Chairperson of
Limavady Borough Council.

Other Chairs who are unable to attend and who sent in their
apologies include; Cllr Coleman Burns, who is Chairperson of Newry
and Mourne District Council; Cllr Kathleen Mc Eldowney, who is
Chairperson Magherafelt District Council; Councillor Maria Kelly,
Mayor of Castleblaney; Cllr Noel Sheridan, who is Chairperson of
Armagh City and District Council; and Cllr Jarlath Mc Nulty, who is

Chairperson of Strabane District Council

Sinn Fein is the largest party in Belfast but the presence of Sinn
Féin Chairpersons and Mayors on so many Councils across Ulster is a
potent reminder of the growth of the party in recent years.

One of the great challenges facing us in the time ahead is
utilising that political strength to advance our republican goals
and to deliver for those who have placed their confidence and trust
in us.

Citizens have the right to, and the desire for material benefits,
and to effective political representation and our duty is to
deliver that.

At a time of great change in our society, as well as increasing
economic difficulties, our focus has to be on improving the living
conditions for citizens, on building prosperity and equality, while
advancing toward national freedom.

Engaging with the DUP

A crucial part of our work is the need for us to develop an
entirely new relationship with unionism.

Irish Republicans believe in a United Ireland.

We believe it is in the best interests of all the people who live
on this island that British government interference and
jurisdiction are ended.

Unionists have a different view, a different opinion.

The challenge for us is to persuade them of the value of the
republican and democratic position.

There is an understandable frustration and annoyance, and not just
among nationalists and republicans, at the DUP s refusal to engage
properly on issues like education, the environment, the Irish
language, and of course policing powers.

Today, the DUP finds itself in a place it never wanted to be - a
partnership government - in which the checks and balances of the

Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement, have a DUP

Minister on an equal status with a Sinn Féin Minister in the Joint
Office of First and deputy First Minister.

As Unionism comes to terms with these realities, its various
tendencies seem to be in a process of gradual re-alignment.

So, progress is slow.

Yesterday, after an unnecessarily long negotiation, the DUP and
Sinn Féin set out areas of progress between us on the transfer of
policing and justice powers.

But there is still work to be done on this, including on the
timeframe for transfer.

In my opinion the vast majority of citizens want transfer to take
place; they want the political institutions to work effectively.

They want the institutions to be delivering for them on all these
matters, as well as on other bread and butter issues; like rising
energy costs and the crisis on the housing market.

So, part of our job of work in the time ahead is to ensure the
institutions do deliver.

That means keeping our eye firmly fixed on our political goals as
we continue to negotiate with the DUP and the two governments on
all of these issues.


Connect with Sinn Féin