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Adams - Unionism is at a Crossroads

2 November, 2008 - by Pat Sheehan

Speaking at the party’s final EU 2009 election convention where Lisbon Campaign Director Cllr. Pádraig Mac Loclainn was selected as Sinn Féin’s North West candidate President Gerry Adams MP MLA described unionism as being at a crossroads noting, “For the Good Friday Agreements institution’s to work unionism needs to commit to true partnership and equality.”


Mr. Adams said:


“Forty years on from the Civil Rights Movement and ten years on from the Good Friday Agreement unionism in the north once again finds itself at a crossroads.


“The shift from not an inch politics, from the outright opposition to sharing power with nationalists and republicans to the situation where unionism now finds itself in, has been a traumatic, if slow process, for political unionism.


“From control of the parliament, the Cabinet, local government, the justice system and the police the reality for political unionism in 2008 is that the only way it will be able to exercise any political power is within the all Ireland political architecture set out in the Good Friday Agreement – with all of its built in checks and balances.


“Despite all of the provocative posturing and over the top rhetoric, this is the reality.


“The challenge for successive unionist leadership has been to come to terms with this reality and to act accordingly. None have succeeded so far. What does this mean for unionism today? It means the leadership making a fundamental decision.


“Do they want to move forward with the rest of us or do they still harbour the notion of returning to the past? Everything hinges on the answer to this simple question.


“I hope that in the coming period unionism makes it clear that it is up for the challenges of moving forward together as equals.


“That means working the joint office of the First and Deputy First Minister in true partnership. It means operating within the Executive and the Departments and the all-Ireland bodies in the same way. Sharing power means sharing power. It does not mean operating institutions on your own terms.


“The Good Friday Agreement institutions cannot operate on this basis. They require unionism to commit to true partnership and equality for the first time. The core of the current dispute is about defending the Good Friday Agreement and its institutions.


“Sinn Féin is on the right side of that argument. There is a way forward available; it is the road of equality and partnership - the question is whether or not unionist politicians are prepared to lead their people along that path.” ENDS




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