Looking forward with confidence
SINN FÉIN President Gerry Adams MP MLA in a New Year message said:
"2008 was a significant year that saw further progress made in bedding down the all-Ireland political institutions including governmental institutions in the North.
The agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP was a crucial development in maintaining forward political momentum and restoring faith in the political process.
The Northern Executive has been able to take some measures to help families experiencing hardship in these difficult economic times but more work will be required in the time ahead. In particular there is a need to tackle the lack of economic and fiscal sovereignty, and the British Government's inadequate annual subvention, which limits the options available to the Executive.
It is important that we see further progress on this and other issues in the year ahead and Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that commitments given in the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements are implemented. Vital areas of work remain to be completed, specifically in the areas of the Bill of Rights, equality and the Irish language.
The latter part of 2008 was dominated by the credit crunch and the global economic crisis. This is having a severe impact on the economy of this island and has led to a large number of job losses and hardship for many families.
The Irish Government has failed to produce a coherent strategy to deal with this and has chosen instead to attack the most vulnerable in society.
Over the course of next year as Sinn Féin President I will be conducting a tour of constituencies in the 26 Counties alongside town hall meetings in the North.
It is now clear that the year ahead will see a re-run of the Lisbon Treaty referendum. The way that the Irish Government and the EU has dealt with last June's 'No' vote has been deeply insulting to Irish voters who rejected the Treaty.
Sinn Féin will study the Governments proposals, as we did in the last referendum. We will oppose any re-run of a referendum on the same treaty text. If the Government does not fulfill its mandate, we will campaign for the issues of the EU's democratic deficit, workers' rights and public services, neutrality and Ireland's influence in the EU institutions to be properly addressed.
Sadly, as 2008 has drawn to a close and at Christmas time when the thoughts of millions around the world were focused on the Holy Land, people have been horrified by the events in Gaza.
Israel must immediately end its attacks on Gaza and international political pressure needs to be applied for the Israeli Government to end hostilities. The cause of peace and stability in the Middle East can only be damaged by this latest outrage.
I would urge all parties and groups in the region to accept inclusive dialogue and political negotiation as the most effective pathway to peace and for all acts of military aggression to end.
2009 will mark the 90th anniversary of the convening of the First Dáil.
For Irish republicans today, the ideals and the objectives of the First Dáil - a sovereign, democratic, united Irish republic based on equality and social justice - remains a live political project.
Sinn Féin is pursuing a political strategy to achieve this. Building the political strength to bring about fundamental political, social and constitutional change is key to that strategy.
We seek to bring a new momentum to the achievement of a united Ireland by bringing together the greatest number of people in support of national democratic objectives.
As a contribution to this Sinn Féin has invited people to join the daylong celebration of the 90th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil at the Mansion House on 21 January.
Today we are closer than ever to achieving Irish unity. The cause of Irish unity is going forward, and an ever-growing number of people see it as the way ahead, politically, socially and economically.
Republicans are looking forward with confidence"