Real opportunity to transform politics - Gerry Adams TD
Speaking at a Sinn Féin Public Meeting in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh this evening, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said politics on the island of Ireland is in flux and that this presented real opportunities to "transform the political landscape North and South. The time has come for genuine republican politics".
He said Sinn Féin's opposition to austerity, "whether foisted on citizens in the North by a British Tory Government, or in the South by Fine Gael and Labour", has struck a chord.
The Sinn Féin Leader said the same kind of political will seen in the early days of the peace process was required for the current talks process to break the political impasse in the North. He said however that, as yet, there is no evidence of the type of credible negotiations required for a positive outcome.
Gerry Adams said:
"Sinn Féin's vision of a modern republic and an agreed, united Ireland, rooted in equality and social justice is finding ever-greater resonance with citizens.
"While political talks involving all parties in the North and both Governments are underway, there is no evidence yet of the type of credible negotiations required to unlock the impasse in the political process.
"Sinn Féin's priority is to defend and to progress the hugely significant advances that have been made over the past 20 years.
"It is of crucial importance however that the Irish Government adopts the same unambiguous pro-Agreement position and very clearly holds the British Government to account in relation to its obligations.
"Overcoming vexed issues such as flags, parades and dealing with the past requires all parties and both Governments bringing to the table an absolute determination to secure a resolution.
"We need the same kind of political and civic will – the same demand for change – which we saw in the early days of the peace process and which ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin will not be found wanting.
With the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising fast approaching, Mr Adams criticised the Fine Gael/Labour Government's lack of preparation or ideas to mark the ocassion and said they appeared determined to dishonour the legacy of the Rising:
"The reason this Government won’t mark the Rising appropriately is because it is opposed to the political, social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation.
"Despite this shameful official neglect, ordinary Irish citizens, North and South, and the Irish Diaspora will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916. They will be joined by Sinn Féin.
"And Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in an independent, united Ireland with peace and genuine reconciliation between all who live here."
The Sinn Féin Leader said recent "mud slinging" by the party's political opponents is a sign of political desperation:
"It is about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin and our potential for gains at the next General Election. It will not succeed. The people are not stupid.
"Sinn Fein believes in a real republic, a citizen-centred, rights-based society. That is the fundamental ideological difference between Sinn Féin and the deeply unpopular Fine Gael/Labour government. So too, is our deep and unswerving commitment to the achievement of a United Ireland.
"Our message is finding a deep resonance among citizens the length and breadth of this country. More citizens voted for Sinn Féin in 2014 than in the famous election of 1918.
"This evening's engagement is part of the process of building a strong Irish republican party focussed on uniting Ireland and committed to achieving real political, social and economic change."