Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Gerry Adams speech to 6 County EU selection convention

9 October, 2008

Gerry Adams will this evening addressed Sinn Féin activists gathered in the Europa Hotel for a selection convention to decide who will represent Sinn Fein in next years European elections.

The Sinn Fein President praised Bairbre de Brún for her hard work in the European Parliament in the last 5 years.

Mr. Adams said:

"It is a great honour to be elected by your peers and a special and particular privilege to represent Sinn Féin.

Bairbre de Brún has done a tremendous job as the MEP for this party and for this part of the island.

She has been a tireless advocate on behalf of her constituents on justice and community issues, on the economy and agriculture and fishing matters, as well as taking a lead role in environmental issues - in particular renewable energy.

She has served the people of the north and this party well, along with Mary Lou as the first Sinn Féin members elected to the European Parliament. And she has set a standard of work and a record of representation that none of the other MEPs or potential candidates come close to matching.

Of course, European elections are always difficult. Not least because the work of MEPs is largely ignored by the media in the intervening five years.

However, as well as voting for an MEP, the European election next year will provide an opportunity for Sinn Féin to continue with our strategy of building the party and building political strength.

The election north and south will be a major challenge for Sinn Féin and we will have to maximize our efforts to ensure a good result.

I believe that with Bairbre's record of exemplary work and a good organizational campaign by Sinn Fein that we can look forward to a successful election campaign.

Let me now say a few words about the current crisis in the political process.

40 years ago this week a Civil Rights march in Derry was batoned off the streets by a Unionist government incapable of coming to terms with the rights and entitlements of nationalists and republicans.

The Duke Street march was a pivotal turning point in our recent history.

Four decades later, and while much progress has been made, there are still some unionist politicians who want to turn the clock back; who want to rule the roost and who refuse to accept that nationalists and republicans have the right to human and civil rights, and to equality.

This is not acceptable and Sinn Fein will not allow the hard work of recent years to be squandered.

Some have tried to portray this crisis as the result of Sinn Féin blocking measures within the Executive and refusing to allow that body to meet.

This is neither true nor accurate.

This political crisis is more fundamental that that.

It is about the heart and soul of the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements - the partnership and power arrangements of these agreements.

It lies in the DUP's refusal to work the Executive as a partnership and power sharing government.

And it lies in the desire of some DUP representatives who want to run the institutions in the same way unionism used to run the north - in their interests solely, even though the leadership knows this is not sustainable.

It is obvious that there are elements with the DUP who do not agree with power sharing and partnership as a political model or a practical politics.

In addition, there are clearly elements of the DUP who really don't want to have a Catholic about the place.

They are opposed to power sharing in any form.

And some of them clearly believe that by stalling and delaying they can hollow out the Food Friday and St. Andrews Agreement.

As a result of this opposition the DUP has been retreating from its obligations under the St. Andrews Agreement.

They have failed to embrace partnership government; they have run away from policing and justice obligations; they seek the retention of an outdated class based education system, and have sought to undermine the rights and entitlements of Irish speakers.

And all of this is wrapped in the most abusive and offensive language.

In effect the position adopted by the DUP since June is a challenge to all of the parties and in particular to the two governments.

Since early June Sinn Fein has been attempting to get the DUP to engage in a real and meaningful negotiation.

The DUP have avoided any real engagement.

By their actions the DUP risks squandering much of the good work done in the first year of the operation of the new institutions.

Sinn Féin makes no apology for standing firmly in defence of the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements are fully implemented.

And we are determined that the rights and entitlements of every citizen are upheld.

We will continue to do all that we can to ensure that the political institutions work on the basis that they were agreed - in partnership and equality.

But Sinn Fein across this island is also focused on bringing out the biggest republican vote possible in the European elections.

We will be the only party standing in all 5 constituencies on this island and we are appealing for support in every county on this island.

So, the hard work starts again tonight.

This is an important election for our party and for our struggle.

I am confident that we have the right candidates, the right message and the best election team in the field." ENDS

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