Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD opens United Ireland & Peace Process section of Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2013
Iarraim oraibh ar son an Ard Chomhairle tacú le Rún 21 in ainm an Ard Chomhairle agus in ainm na gCumann Nolan/Downey, Béal Feirste agus Terry Clarke, Baile Átha Cliath.
We gather for our Ard Fheis this weekend as a party organised and active throughout the 32 counties of Ireland. We are proud to represent people in every part of our country and regardless of the Partition boundary imposed on us nearly a century ago.
This is what we are – an Irish Republican party, deeply committed to the reunification of our country because we believe passionately that Irish Unity is an essential condition for lasting peace, progress, democracy and equality on our island.
Exactly a century ago the Partition of Ireland was spawned in the corridors of power in London to thwart the progress of the people of Ireland towards independence. In the words of James Connolly, Ireland was placed on the dissecting table and, as he predicted, the result was a carnival of reaction, North and South.
Partition was wrong then. It was wrong in every decade of sectarianism and division and conflict that followed. And it is wrong now.
We recognise that generations of our fellow citizens who designate themselves as Unionists, have grown up in the Northern state and with a sense of Britishness. We acknowledge that. We respect their identity. We acknowledge also that their community suffered grievously in the conflict.
It is a measure of the progress of the Peace Process that against such a background of division and conflict we have created a political process in which Unionists and Republicans can work together for the common good in political institutions in the North. The basis for that co-operation is the Good Friday Agreement which was concluded 15 years ago this week.
The Good Friday Agreement provides for a Border Poll on Irish Unity. This year we in Sinn Féin have commenced a campaign to press both the British and Irish Governments to provide for such a poll.
We are calling on the British Secretary of State to set a date for a referendum in the Six Counties on Irish unity to be held within the lifetime of the next Assembly.
We are calling on the Irish Government to press the British Government to set a date for a poll as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement and to commit to holding a simultaneous poll in the 26 Counties on Irish unity.
The commencement of our Border Poll campaign, at a conference of hundreds of party delegates in Dublin in January this year, saw us resolve to push forward with this demand in the months and years ahead.
We heard predictable responses from predictable political and media quarters. ‘It will never happen’. ‘It’s too soon.’ ‘It’s destabilising.’ ‘It’s threatening.’
Debate is a threat to no-one. The basis for political stability is the Good Friday Agreement and the poll is provided for in that Agreement. Far from being too soon, it is long past time to address the need for progress towards Irish Unity.
And let’s make it very clear – it IS going to happen.
A chairde, is orainn mar Poblachtánaigh atá an dualgas chun an feachtas seo a chur chun cinn, chun ceist Aontú na hÉireann a phlé le hAontachtaithe agus leis an pobal i gcoitinne, chun a thaispeáint gur féidir linn daonlathas nua, Poblacht Nua a chruthú ar an oileán seo. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.