Adams challenges Dáil parties on North
The first meeting of the government’s constitutional convention will be held on Saturday December 1st.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in Belfast today has urged citizens in the North to engage with the Constitutional Convention and lobby it on the issue of voting rights in Presidential elections.
The Sinn Féin leader also challenged Southern-based parties to “stop playing at being republican and united Irelanders, and start organizing in the North.’
Singling out Fianna Fáil, Mr Adams accused the Fianna Fáil leadership of “opportunistic politics and negative leadership”.
“I welcome the fact that the Dáil parties are more frequently speaking about, and raising issues relating to the North, than at any time in recent years.
“However, the recent remarks of Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin are opportunistic politics and negative leadership. Mr Martin’s comments have more to do with attacking Sinn Féin as a political rival in the South than with contributing to the Peace Process or future relations on this island.”
The Sinn Fein leader said:
“The past couple of years have been very important ones for Sinn Féin. Across the island successive elections have seen the party grow from strength to strength.
“During this time Sinn Féin’s political message has been clear, coherent and consistent.
“Whether in government in the North or opposition in the South it is about protecting public services and families on low and middle incomes; it is about fair taxes, investing in jobs, and growing the all-Ireland economy.
“Sinn Féin is the only all-island party – a united Ireland party. Others, like Fianna Fáil, have engaged in the rhetoric of republican politics and a united Ireland for decades, but have no vision or strategies or policies to advance it.
“Sinn Féin’s approach is rooted in our core republican values and our vision of a new Republic for this island. We believe in citizens and in citizens’ rights protected in legislation.
“Partition has failed the people of Ireland, North and South, the unionists and the rest of us. A new agreed Ireland based on the rights of citizens is needed.”
“On December 1st the inaugural meeting of the Irish Government’s Constitutional Convention will take place in Dublin.
“The Fine Gael/Labour approach to constitutional reform is under-ambitious and short-sighted.
“Its proposals for the Constitutional Convention fall far short of the type of reform promised especially by Labour before entering government.
“Despite this Sinn Féin is determined to put a number of crucial issues on the agenda at the convention, including voting rights for citizens in the North and for Irish emigrants.
“During my recent visit to the USA and Canada I urged the Irish diaspora in those countries to engage with the convention and make demands of it. I also urge citizens in the north to make their voices heard on this. The Irish government is contemplating giving the vote to Irish citizens in Presidential elections outside the state but not in the north.
“This is not acceptable. Only by lobbying and raising the demand for the vote will it be possible to move the convention beyond the narrow remit it has been set by the government.
A Border Poll
“In the New year Sinn Féin will be launching our campaign to secure a border poll.
“This is a part of the Good Friday Agreement. Responding to my announcement recently Nigel Dodds of the DUP said unionists had no concerns about a border poll so I look forward to his supporting our proposition for a referendum.
“Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement there is now only a qualified, conditional claim by the British on the north and this will change when a majority of citizens vote for an end to the union.
“The Good Friday Agreement therefore provides for a border poll on Irish unity and Sinn Féin wants that poll held in the upcoming period.
“Of course, this means building support for a poll and for a vote in favour of ending partition. I believe we can do this. The economic and political dynamic for the 21st century is for greater co-operation and harmonisation. Common sense, as well as the logic of history, advocates Irish unity.
“It would reduce government costs, make for more efficient governance, create new jobs and guarantee stability and peace.
“I am convinced that it is possible to persuade a majority of citizens that this is the best way forward. That equality and unity is better.”