Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, MLA remarks at the National Press Club Washington, DC this morning March 16th 2009
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“I want to thank you all for coming this morning.”
“I am here with my colleagues Rita O Hare and Richard McAuley for a number of engagements around the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.”
“This will include meeting Secretary of State Hilary Clinton tomorrow morning. That meeting will provide me with an opportunity to update the Secretary of State and the Administration on developments in Ireland.”
“It will also allow me to speak to her about the issue of the thousands of undocumented Irish who live and work here in the USA.”
“Later today I will have the opportunity to meet my old friend Senator George Mitchell and later again Senator Chris Dodd.”
“During my two days in DC I will also be attending the reception in the White House, the Speakers lunch, as well as addressing the Friends of Ireland Committee and meeting with other senior legislators.”
“So, it’s a busy schedule during which I will be speaking to them all about Sinn Fein’s plans for two major conferences in the USA this summer on the theme of a United Ireland.”
"Sinn Fein is first and foremost an Irish republican party.
“Our goal is freedom and justice in Ireland, an end to British government involvement in our country and the achievement of Irish unity.”
“In this spirit, I have recently called for a national conversation on how these goals can be achieved and on the type of Ireland we want.”
“A very necessary part of this conversation needs to be held with the Irish diaspora. “
“There are millions of people in North America and across the world who can trace their lineage back to Ireland. “
“There is considerable good will here in the USA for a United Ireland.”
“We want to mobilize and organise with all of these friends and potential allies to advance our goals.”
“So, as part of this Sinn Féin will this summer host two major conferences in the USA and next year a conference in Britain.”
“The New York conference will be on Saturday June 13th and the west coast conference will be on Saturday June 27th in San Francisco.”
“ Our intention is to engage with the Irish diaspora and to marshal its political strength in support of a United Ireland.”
“Achieving Irish unity is a major challenge.”
“It particularly means that Irish republicans have to reach out to the Unionists.”
“We fully understand the need to persuade unionists of the desirability of a shared, united Ireland.”
“ Achieving this is a responsibility also of the Irish government.”
“ The British government too has its obligations. The democratic imperative demands that they must be based on the ending of British jurisdiction on this island.”
Commenting on recent events Mr.Adams said:
“The murder of two British soldiers and a PSNI officer are very much in people’s thoughts at this time.
“It is important to understand that this is a full frontal attack on the peace process. “
“These attacks reflect the success of the process.”
“The vast majority of people are opposed to what happened. “
“ The political institutions, the peace process and Sinn Féin are as much a target of the perpetrators of Saturday nights attack as those they killed or injured. “
“They have to be resisted. “
“Politically. Democratically. Peacefully. They want to destroy the hard won progress of recent times. They cannot be allowed to succeed. “
“There is also an onus on the British government and the PSNI to resist any temptation or any demands for a return to the bad practices of the past. “
“This would be equally wrong. It would also sideline the peace process and political leaders.”
The popular will in Ireland is for peaceful and democratic change. “
“I’m sure that’s shared by our neighbours in Britain and further a field.”
“So everyone has a responsibility to defend the peace. There can be no turning back. Those I have met here understand this. The peace process is clearly a work in progress. It is a journey we are on and a journey we have to complete.” ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS: Following his address this morning at the National Press Club Gerry Adams has a series of engagements including meetings with Senior Trade Union Leaders, a meeting with US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Senator George Mitchell and concluding with a meeting with Senator Chris Dodd.
Tomorrow Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams meet with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, he will also meet with representatives of the Friends of Ireland Committee.
Mr Adams will then attend the Speaker’s Lunch where US President Barack Obama will also be in attendance. Later in the evening Mr Adams will attend the Saint Patrick’s Day Reception in the White House.
On the 18th of March Mr Adams will address students at Harvard University.