Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Gerry Adams addresses opening rally of European Social Forum

14 October, 2004


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this evening addressed the opening rally of the European Social Forum which is taking place in London. In his opening remarks Mr. Adams said: "We need to be willing to share the burden of struggle and the lessons of our own experiences. Ni neart go chur le cheile. ... This Forum is about demonstrating that another world is possible. This potential for progress, for real and meaningful change, is something that Irish republicans passionately believe in.

"It is wrong that anyone should have to suffer because of their nationality, sexual orientation, disability, colour or creed. It is wrong that the third world should be crippled with debt while the first world is affluent. That debt should be cancelled. It is wrong that over one billion people live on less than one dollar a day and that 11 million children under 5 die each year from preventable causes.

"Our goal, emerging from this Forum and other similar discussions must be to build peace, freedom, human rights, tolerance and an international society based upon the rule of law, on justice and equality - a truly united human family. Irish republicans are committed and determined to play our full part in working with others to achieve this."

Full Text

Ba mhaith liom mo chomhghairdeas a thabhairt dóibh siúd - go háirithe mo sean chara Ken Livingstone. Is acoid galanta an Foram agus tá mé go h'an sasta a bheith libhse ag glacadh pairt sna diospoireacht seo agus cainteanna eile amarach. Mile buiochas daoibh. Go mbeidh Foram maith agaibh agus go neirigh an t'adh libh uilig.

It is a great honour to have been asked to participate in the European Social Forum and to be here among old and new friends in struggle. This forum is about learning to pursue our goals in an effective way, in a more successful way, and to build our struggles so that they change people's lives for the better.

That's in large measure what the next few days are about. Talking, listening, having quiet or not so quiet conversations on the margins of meetings, participating in seminars and debates. Learning from each other.

We face many challenges. War in Iraq, conflict in the Middle East, countless wars in Africa, the peace process in Ireland in crisis, unimaginable poverty and deprivation across the globe, hunger, environmental disasters and the fear of more to come, globalisation and the exploitation of workers, racism and sectarianism, injustice and oppression.

These are some of the matters which confront us. And these are the issues which have brought us together here in London as we seek to strategise and develop alternatives.

What makes us think we can face up to all these issues?

What makes us think that we can change things?

This is a fundamental question. And the answer is straightforward. It is a belief that we can make a difference. It is a belief that another world is possible.

All of us gathered here will bring our own individual experience to bear in these discussions.

Dr. Aleida Guevara is the daughter of Ché. In keeping with a great Irish tradition we are proud to claim him as one our own - his great grandfather was Patrick Lynch from Ireland. The struggle against apartheid, enjoyed enormous support in Ireland. And when Sinn Féin needed help as we developed our peace strategy, the African National Congress was on hand to listen to our concerns and to talk through with us the options available.

Thenjiwe Mtintso is a comrade from the ANC who came to Ireland and spoke at our Ard Fheis - our national conference - and encouraged republican activists to think strategically.

Ken Livingstone was pilloried in the British media for daring to engage with Irish republicans. Twenty years ago his visits to Belfast and his invitations to me and other republicans to visit London, caused consternation within the British political system and were condemned, but on reflection who was right?

Had Ken's engagement with republicanism been embraced by the British government at that time there is no doubt that the peace process might have occurred sooner. The other speakers, Susan, Meena, Charles and Frances bring their own unique insights.

All of these examples show the importance of practical as well as symbolic acts of international solidarity. We need to be willing to share the burden of struggle and the lessons of our own experiences. Ni neart go chur le cheile. And that's also what this Forum is about. It's about demonstrating that another world is possible.

This potential for progress, for real and meaningful change, is something that Irish republicans passionately believe in. It is wrong that anyone should have to suffer because of their nationality, sexual orientation, disability, colour or creed.

It is wrong that the third world should be crippled with debt while the first world is affluent. That debt should be cancelled. It is wrong that over one billion people live on less than one dollar a day and that 11 million children under 5 die each year from preventable causes.

Our goal, emerging from this Forum and other similar discussions must be to build peace, freedom, human rights, tolerance and an international society based upon the rule of law, on justice and equality - a truly united human family. Irish republicans are committed and determined to play our full part in working with others to achieve this. The European Union has an increasing involvement in all our lives, especially in Ireland.

I listen to talk of a United Europe. But there cannot be a United Europe without a United Ireland and part of the Forum's discussion must focus on ending the partition of Ireland. Sinn Féin wants to build an Ireland of Equals in a Europe of Equals. In keeping with our commitment to demilitarise the conflict in Ireland, we are actively campaigning for the demilitarisation of the EU.

Irish republicans are also for economic and social justice within Europe. We want the EU to prioritise the elimination of poverty within and beyond its borders.

Sinn Féin believes the European Union must conduct itself in a globally responsible way. This means fair trade has to prevail over free trade and we should all campaign for the human rights-proofing of EU aid and trade policies.The massive EU overspend on the military, presently at ?160 billion must be challenged.

We must also turn our urgent attention to the crisis in UN Peacekeeping. The genocidal consequences of UN failures in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and now Darfur, must not be repeated. But we also know that the answer is not to abdicate responsibility for peacekeeping to regional military alliances.

The UN has to be reformed, modernised and strengthened And the Forum needs to send a clear message that we do not accept that any state has the right to act unilaterally. I welcome the fact that the World Social Forum's Charter of Principles commits to equal respect for the rights of all citizens of all nations, and to "the development of an international system that will serve social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples."

The need to focus on corporate-led globalisation can sometimes fool us into believing that imperialism, the oldest form of globalisation, is a thing of the past. It isn't. There is still a need to be against Empires.

There is no single, simple key to resolving these myriad and diverse problems. But if we are to succeed in bringing about substantive change it will be as a result of all of us making a contribution.

Comrade Madiba - Nelson Mandela - summed it up best when he remarked that 'there is no easy road to freedom' and that 'none of us acting alone can achieve success'. He said; 'We must therefore act together as a united people. for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.'

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