Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Slanderous attacks about trying to stop rising support for Sinn Fein - Gerry Adams TD

7 November, 2014 - by Gerry Adams TD


Addressing the annual Friends of Sinn Féin fundraising dinner in New York Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams TD said:

 

“Sinn Féin is proud of what we have achieved in Government in the North under Martin McGuinness’s leadership. And Sinn Féin is the lead opposition party in the South. We are determined to keep building; to keep making advances.

 

“Not surprisingly our political opponents remain equally determined to attack and undermine and devalue our efforts. Many of those who scandalously slandered and criticised John Hume and myself for our peace efforts in the 1990’s, are still active today.

 

“We have seen that most recently in the scurrilous allegations levelled against myself and Sinn Féin by the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and the Fianna Fáil leader. These allegations are not true.

 

“The campaign of slander has been led largely by the Independent Group of Newspapers. It has opposed our peace efforts 20 years ago and continues to attack us today.”

 

Mr Adams accused the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste, and the Fianna Fáil leader of hypocrisy in the attacks on Sinn Fein and said:

 

“In their effort to stem the rising tide of public support for Sinn Féin it would appear that our political opponents are prepared to employ any dirty trick; use any lie; level any insulting allegation or bogus accusation.

 

“And that is what this tactic is really about.  It’s about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin and our potential for electoral gains at the next general election in the south in 2016. They will not succeed.

 

“But they do have good cause for concern. I am pleased to report to you that with your continued support 2014 was another good year electorally for the party in Ireland. In May Sinn Féin fought local government and EU elections across the island of Ireland emerging as the largest party in Ireland.”

 

Mr Adams said voters had endorsed Sinn Fein’s message for the need to reinvigorate the Peace Process and for an agreed, united Ireland.

 

“That’s what Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and Labour and the DUP are afraid of. A strong Irish republican party focussed on uniting Ireland , and committed to achieving real change in Ireland”, he said.

 

Mr Adams thanked US diplomats Richard Haas and Meghan O’Sullivan for the work they did for peace in Ireland saying that their proposals for dealing with the past, with Orange marches and issues of identity provideh a way forward but were rejected by the Unionists and not supported by the British Government.

 

He said:

 

“Last year I told you that the Irish and British governments are failing the peace process. That remains my opinion. They have failed to demand that political unionism honour its commitments in government.

 

“Let me record that this negative stance is out of step with civic Unionism, the community sector, and the business and commercial sectors. Grassroot unionists, particularly those disadvantaged by austerity policies, deserve better.

 

“And the government themselves have also failed to implement key elements of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements. There is no Bill of Rights for the north to protect citizens; there is no Acht na Gaeilge; there is no north-south consultative forum.

 

“Let me also say that all of these measures will be introduced because we in Sinn Féin are absolutely determined that there is no going back. The only way is forward.

 

“You will also know, that the British government has reneged on the commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. It continues to cover-up the role of the British state in collusion and the murder of citizens.”

 

The Sinn Fein Leader said the Irish government is failing to effectively challenge the British government on any of this:

 

“Instead of acting as a co-equal guarantor with the British government, the Irish government is acquiescing to British policy.This is unacceptable. It is also dangerous.

 

“Martin McGuinness and I are waiting since the summer for a meeting with the Taoiseach. Fact is, the Taoiseach doesn’t understand the peace process. He sees Sinn Féin as rivals not as partners in peace building.

 

“The British government's appeasement of political unionism and the Irish government's detached attitude to the Good Friday Agreement are unhelpful and counter-productive.

 

“The Irish Government has previously been involved in each successful negotiation from Good Friday, through to St Andrews and Hillsborough. It needs to do so again.”

 

*See below the full text of Gerrys Adams’ address:

Defend the Good Friday Agreement

I want to welcome all of you here tonight to the annual New York Friends of Sinn Féin dinner.

 

This event would not have been possible without the commitment, hard work and dedication of the Friends of Sinn Féin Committee.

 

So a special go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

 

To: our musicians and to everyone who has worked on this event.

 

I want to thank our leader Rita O’Hare and Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD for their contribution this evening.

 

Richard McAuley, my close friend and colleague who normally travels to this event unfortunately is unable to be with us tonight, but sends his best regards from Ireland.

 

Thanks also to:

Jim Cullen

Pat, Jimmy and Brian Donaghy
Paul Bryce
Fay Devlin
Sean Mackin
Joseph Smith
Sean Downes

And Gerry Keogh

 

Despite their busy lives the Committee has once again succeeded in planning and organizing tonight’s very successful event. 

 

It is that same commitment and dedication that has kept the Irish American diaspora connected to its homeland.

 

This diaspora is very important to Sinn Féin.

 

Pearse Doherty recently travelled to Australia to meet our latest generation of exiles. He is for Canada this weekend.

 

And I want to welcome Alan McConnell from Friends of Sinn Féin in Canada.

 

Mary Lou was in Australia earlier this year.

 

We applaud the work being done here for the undocumented and for immigrant reform.

 

I want to thank the Dublin TD Sean Crowe for his work and pledge Sinn Féin’s continued support on this important issue.

 

Remember almost half a million – a lost generation of mostly young people – have been forced to leave Ireland in the last eight years.

 

That, alongside the partition of our island is a shameful indictment of successive Dublin Governments.

 

Sinn Féin strongly supports the right of Irish citizens outside the Southern state to vote in Presidential elections.

 

That means people in the North and the Diaspora.

 

We put that on the agenda for the Constitutional convention and the Convention supports that right.

 

I introduced a Bill in the Dáil recently to give effect to this. So I look forward to you folks voting for our President.

 

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh as the Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Diaspora.

 

Trevor, from Conamara will take up the good work that Sean Crowe started.

 

On this the 20th anniversary year of the IRA’s 1994 cessation, I especially want to thank all of you in this room.

 

I recognise many familiar faces.

 

Year after year, you have attended conferences, lobbied your political representatives, raised the issue of peace and justice and freedom for Ireland, and joined with us in the many fund raising events that have been held by Friends of Sinn Féin.

 

I want to thank you and the millions more across the USA and internationally, who have remained steadfast and true to the cause of freedom and independence and unity in Ireland.

 

Your efforts helped bring an end to the long war and to create the conditions for the peace process.

 

As I flew across the Atlantic this morning I had time to reflect on how much has changed; how far our struggle has come, and especially of my first journeys here in 1994.

 

 

20 years ago last month I first travelled across this huge United States from the east coast to the west.

 

I met Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Chris Dodd, as well as Congressmen Peter King and Ben Gilman and Richie Neal and countless other city, state and national leaders,  and I spoke to the then Vice President Al Gore.

 

20 years ago next month I was back for my first visit to the White House.

 

It is important that you understand that all of that, and the progress we have seen since then, and the continued engagement of successive Democratic and Republican Presidents and Congressional leaders, is down to your hard work and commitment.

 

None of that would have happened without your support; your lobbying; your efforts.

 

On those visits I made a commitment that Sinn Féin would work tirelessly for peace.

 

That we would work unstintingly to achieve Irish reunification.

 

And that we would honour every commitment we make.

 

We have kept those commitments.

 

Irish republicans have demonstrated a determination to keep looking forward, and to keep moving the peace process forward despite all the difficulties and frustrations.

 

We have taken risks for peace; personal risks and political risks.

 

And Sinn Féin is proud of what we have achieved in Government in the North under Martin McGuinness’s leadership.

 

And Sinn Féin is the lead opposition party in the South.

 

We are determined to keep building; to keep making advances.

 

Not surprisingly our political opponents remain equally determined to attack and undermine and devalue our efforts.

 

Many of those who scandalously slandered and criticised John Hume and myself for our peace efforts in the 1990’s, are still active today.

 

We have seen that most recently in the scurrilous allegations levelled against myself and Sinn Féin by the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and the Fianna Fáil leader.

 

These allegations are not true.

 

The campaign of slander has been led largely by the Independent Group of Newspapers.

 

It has opposed our peace efforts 20 years ago and continues to attack us today.

 

For those of you who know the history of struggle in Ireland, you will know that none of this is new.

 

In 1916 the Irish Independent called for the execution of the leaders of the Rising.

 

In particular, when all the others were shot to death, except for the badly wounded James Connolly, the Independent demanded he be executed also.

 

A few years later during the Tan War it condemned Michael Collins and the efforts of that generation of IRA freedom fighters so beloved of the Dublin establishment.

 

Unlike Bobby Sands MP, or Mairead Farrell, or Maire Drumm, who the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael leaders condemn as terrorists, they hale Mick Collins as a Gandhi like personage.

 

Mick Collins’ response to the Independent’s criticism of the fight for freedom was to dispatch volunteers to the Independent’s offices.

 

They held the editor at gun point and then dismantled and destroyed the entire printing machinery!

 

Now I’m obviously not advocating that.

 

Just pointing up the hypocrisy of the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste, and the Fianna Fáil leader.

 

In their effort to stem the rising tide of public support for Sinn Féin it would appear that our political opponents are prepared to employ any dirty trick; use any lie; level any insulting allegation or bogus accusation.

 

And that is what this tactic is really about.

 

It’s about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin and our potential for electoral gains at the next general election in the south in 2016.

 

They will not succeed. But they do have good cause for concern.

 

I am pleased to report to you that with your continued support 2014 was another good year electorally for the party in Ireland.

 

In May Sinn Féin fought local government and EU elections across the island of Ireland emerging as the largest party in Ireland.

 

The results are clear:        

 

  • More citizens voted for Sinn Féin in 2014 than in the famous election of 1918.

 

  • Sinn Féin MEP’s represent every county on the island of Ireland.

 

  • 262 Local government Councillors were elected.

 

  • Approximately a third are women. Not good enough yet, but better than any other party.

 

  • 21.2% of the vote on the island of Ireland, over a fifth of the electorate support Sinn Féin.

 

  • And on 10 Councils, Sinn Féin is the largest party.

 

It was a historic result.

 

Voters endorsed our message that there is a fairer way to organise our economy and society which is rights based and citizen-centred.

 

They endorsed Sinn Fein’s message for the need to reinvigorate the Peace Process and for an agreed, united Ireland.

 

That’s what Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and Labour and the DUP are afraid of.

 

A strong Irish republican party focussed on uniting Ireland , and committed to achieving real change in Ireland.

 

But the process of change is just that – a process.

 

It needs constant attention, renewal and initiatives.

 

Not least because there are still those in politics, in the media, in the governments, who are resistant to change.

 

That is evident in the ongoing difficulties in the current negotiations.

 

These centre around issues all of you will be familiar with; disputes over flags, contentious parades and dealing with the past and legacy issues.

 

In essence it’s all about equality, or the lack of it.

 

The negotiations are also about the future of the Good Friday Agreement and the political institutions it established.

 

 

Several weeks ago the DUP leader Peter Robinson asserted that the political arrangements set up under the Good Friday Agreement and other Agreements, were no longer fit for purpose.

 

No one here should miss the importance of this.

 

The DUP – always reluctant partners in the institutions – and opponents of the principles of equality and inclusiveness – are seeking to destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

 

They have stalled on implementing key agreements.

 

In recent weeks we have seen the DUP renege on an agreement to appoint Mitchel McLaughlin of Sinn Féin as speaker of the Assembly.

 

So, in the time ahead I am appealing to all of you to redouble your efforts in defense of the Good Friday Agreement and of the peace process.

 

The US government has sent former Senator Gary Hart to help. I welcome that.

 

 

Secretary of State John Kerry, President Obama and Vice President Biden, and the administration are committed to the peace process. I welcome that also.

 

 

I also want to thank US diplomats Richard Haas and Meghan O’Sullivan for the work they did for peace in our country.

 

Their proposals for dealing with the past, with Orange marches and issues of identity do provide a way forward.

 

But they were rejected by the Unionists and not supported by Downing St.

 

Last year I told you that the Irish and British governments are failing the peace process.

 

That remains my opinion.

 

They have failed to demand that political unionism honour its commitments in government.

 

Let me record that this negative stance is out of step with civic Unionism, the community sector, and the business and commercial sectors.

                                                                                                                         

Grassroot unionists, particularly those disadvantaged by austerity policies, deserve better.

 

And the government themselves have also failed to implement key elements of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements.

 

There is no Bill of Rights for the north to protect citizens; there is no Acht na Gaeilge; there is no north-south consultative forum.

 

Let me also say that all of these measures will be introduced because we in Sinn Féin are absolutely determined that there is no going back.

 

The only way is forward.

 

You will also know, that the British government has reneged on the commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

 

It continues to cover-up the role of the British state in collusion and the murder of citizens.

 

These matters will also be dealt with in the time ahead, in my view.

 

Martin McGuinness, I, MaryLou McDonald and Michelle Gildernew recently met David Cameron.

 

That was the first time he met the Sinn Féin leadership since he came to office.

 

We are still waiting for a promised second meeting.

 

Fact is, Mr Cameron has made no investment in the Irish peace process.

 

For its part the Irish government is failing to effectively challenge the British government on any of this.

 

Instead of acting as a co-equal guarantor with the British government, the Irish government is acquiescing to British policy.

 

This is unacceptable. It is also dangerous.

 

Martin McGuinness and I are waiting since the summer for a meeting with the Taoiseach.

 

Fact is, the Taoiseach doesn’t understand the peace process.

 

He sees Sinn Féin as rivals not as partners in peace building.

 

The British government's appeasement of political unionism and the Irish government's detached attitude to the Good Friday Agreement are unhelpful and counter-productive.

 

The Irish Government has previously been involved in each successful negotiation from Good Friday, through to St Andrews and Hillsborough.

 

It needs to do so again.

 

The current political impasse in the north is not sustainable.

 

There is therefore an urgent need to ensure that political progress is made.

 

That means new initiatives, especially initiatives which can repair broken relationships; promote reconciliation, and map a new course for the future.

 

We need our friends in Irish America and the diaspora to help inject forward momentum back into the peace process.

 

Irish America did it before.

 

The island of Ireland today is in transition.

Politics is in flux.

Progress has been made.

 

But more must be made, if the progress of the last 20 years is not to be squandered.

 

So tonight I am appealing for your help again.

 

I’m also pledging Sinn Féin’s continued and total commitment on making this process work.

 

We are involved in negotiations, and we’re not involved in negotiations to fail.

 

We’re engaged in negotiations to succeed.

 

That is what the vast majority of people want.

 

That is what our children and grandchildren deserve.

 

A future based on peace, democracy and equality. 

 

I am appealing for Irish America to once again step up to the plate; defend the Good Friday Agreement and work with us in ensuring that peace and justice and independence are finally achieved for the people of Ireland.

 

 

Finally, I want to invite you all to be part of the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

 

That Rising was funded by Irish America – by the children of An Gorta Mór/ The Great Hunger.

 

The American connection needs to be recalled and celebrated and I would ask that you organise events to do so. We will help with speakers.

 

Most of the 1916 leaders visited here.

 

James Connolly lived here. So did Tom and Kathleen Clarke.

 

I also want to invite you to come to Ireland for the celebrations.

 

The Government has yet to announce its plans because it has no plans.

 

The Government won’t mark the Rising in appropriate way because it is opposed to the social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation.

 

It is against equality and the core values of Irish Republicanism.

 

But be confident that the plain people of Ireland will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916.

 

Be confident that Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in a United free Ireland.

 

Maybe if enough of our exiles come home we might even have another Rising!

Connect with Sinn Féin