Doherty - Direct rule simply not an option
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP will this afternoon warn the British government that Direct Rule for the six counties is not an option in the longer term. In the course of his speech to the annual Edentubber commemoration in County Louth, Mr Doherty said,
"The Good Friday Agreement was an admission by the British government that the six counties had failed as a political entity. Unionist rule for 50 years had failed and Direct Rule for 30 years had failed.
"Given this it is unacceptable and unreasonable to expect nationalists and republicans having signed on for the Good Friday Agreement to once again be inflicted with Direct Rule in the main administered by the unionist dominated NIO.
"If there is to be no political institutions in the north because of intransigence by a unionist political leadership, then the onus falls on the
two governments to jointly move the situation forward. Direct Rule is a direct subversion of the Good Friday Agreement and is not sustainable in the longer term. It is as simple as that.
"Whatever political arrangements are put in place they must have an all-Ireland dimension and they must deliver equality and human rights."
"In the early hours of November 11th 1957 five Republicans were killed when a land mine exploded prematurely in a house here in Edentubber. They were Paul Smith (19) from Bessbrook, Oliver Craven (19) from Newry, Michael Watters (55) in whose cottage the fatal explosion occurred, George Keegan (29) from Enniscorthy and Paddy Parle (27) from Wexford Town.
From differing social and family backgrounds, they would have expected to live long and productive lives in a normal society, in whatever trade or profession they would have chosen. But as has been the case throughout the troubled history of our country, these brave Irishmen from North and South, like so many before them, opposed the injustice of British occupation of our country and choose the hard but noble road of freedom struggle.
They came from a tradition that has borne the brunt of the struggle for Irish freedom. That is our tradition.
The then Sinn Féin TD for Sligo and Leitrim and my predecessor as Vice President of Sinn Féin John Joe McGirl, delivered the graveside oration. In the course of it he said: "The tragedy which brought to a sudden end the lives of five great Irishmen is a tragedy of the Irish nation, the tragedy of an Ireland that is unfree and divided. These men came from the North and the South to join together to end the tragedy of our nation and her people.'
The IRA Volunteers who died here 47 years ago and the hundreds of men and women Volunteers who have since given their lives for Irish freedom have paved the way for the achievement of the dream of Irish Unity and the end of that tragedy.
This generation has the greatest opportunity since partition to finally achieve genuine national self-determination. But if we are to be successful then we must resist those in the political establishment who would have us lower our expectations.
Nobody is pretending that it will be easy. Nobody is pretending that difficulties will not pave the road ahead. But as Irish Republicans we have a responsibility to finish off the job.
We have just seen the 10th anniversary of the first IRA cessation pass. When republicans set out on that course over a decade ago none of us could have predicted the journey we would have travelled since then. Today Irish Republicanism is growing, strong and confident.
This decade has also seen the n remarkable growth of Sinn Féin. We now have representation across our island and in Westminster, Leinster House and further afield in Brussels. Indeed in the coming months I am confident that the people here today will see both Conor Murphy and Caitriona Ruane join that growing band of Sinn Féin MPs and TDs. The republican message of Irish Unity and Independence is now reaching arenas for so long closed to us by a combination of state repression and censorship.
But another lesson of the past ten years is that republicans cannot make peace on our own. We cannot make agreement on our own. That requires the British and Irish governments. That requires unionist leaders.
It is now almost a year on from the last Assembly elections. In that time we have been involved in a variety of discussions with the governments, in London, Dublin and elsewhere. But all of this has to date failed and failed for one reason only. The DUP, the party in the leadership of unionism, cannot accept you or I, or any republican or nationalist as an equal.
The Good Friday Agreement is as good as it gets for the unionists. There is no alternative. So they have to decide and decide quickly if they are up for sharing power or they are not. Are they up for all-Ireland institutions or are they not? Are they up for Equality? or Human Rights?
I have seen nothing to indicate that they are.
In fact what we have seen is the opposite. Unrealisable demands to change the fundamentals of the Agreement, in particular the all-Ireland and power sharing aspects. These demands cannot and will not be met. These issues were negotiated and agreed six years ago.
There will be no return to unionist domination, or unionist misrule or second class citizenship.
The DUP do not currently want to face up to this but rest assured they will eventually have to face up to the reality of negotiating with Sinn Féin because change will happen anyway. It is already underway and the confidence within republicanism and nationalism is a general reflection of that reality.
The unity, vibrancy and continual growth of Sinn Féin frightens the DUP. They are so afraid of the logic of our analysis that they cannot yet find the courage to negotiate face to face.
But the failure of the DUP to enter the 21st Century cannot be allowed to paralyse the political process. If the DUP are unwilling or incapable of doing the business now then the rest of us on this island cannot be expected to wait around for them to catch up.
The Good Friday Agreement was an admission by the British government that the six counties had failed as a political entity. Unionist rule for 50 years had failed and Direct Rule for 30 years had failed. Given this it is unacceptable and unreasonable to expect nationalists and republicans having signed on for the Good Friday Agreement to once again be inflicted with Direct Rule in the main administered by the unionist dominated NIO.
If there are to be no political institutions in the north because of intransigence by a unionist political leadership, then the onus falls on the two governments to jointly move the situation forward. Direct Rule is a direct subversion of the Good Friday Agreement and is not sustainable in the longer term. It is as simple as that.
Whatever political arrangements are put in place they must have an all-Ireland dimension and they must deliver equality and human rights.
The British government have time and again defended unionist interests. The democratically elected political representatives of Irish national opinion, and in particular the Irish government, has a responsibility to vigorously defend the interests of Irish nationalists across the island in any dealings with London.
In this respect the Irish government should deliver on representation in the southern institutions for those elected in the six counties as a herald of a national and democratic agenda. If provision is to be made at Westminster for unionist MPs to take up their seats then similar provisions must be made for six county MPs in Leinster House.
Irish citizens in the six counties must have voting rights granted in advance of the next Irish Presidential election.
There is also a heavy responsibility on both governments to deliver on the other outstanding aspects of the Agreement which lie directly in their gift.
We do not have proper policing. We do not have human rights. We do not have equality. We do not have justice. Qualifying republican prisoners remain in jail six years on from the Good Friday Agreement. And if ever there were a physical manifestation of the failure of Tony Blair to honour commitments and deliver obligations it is the hillsides and towns in this area.
Local communities demanding demilitarisation might embarrass the SDLP Councillors in South Armagh or elsewhere, but you certainly do not embarrass Sinn Féin and I pledge our continuing support for your campaign until the spy posts and those who occupy them are removed from our country.
We also must not forget the three Irishmen still being held in Colombia. Simply because they have slipped off the media agenda having being found innocent does not mean that they are not still in extreme danger and in need of our help, support and assistance until they are once again home with their families.
So, many challenges lie ahead in the coming months.
Sinn Féin has demonstrated a commitment to this process and to finding a resolution to the current crisis. But make no mistake we are equally determined to pursue our primary goal of Irish unity and independence.
Sinn Fein will celebrate our centenary in 2005 with a year-long series of events beginning in January.
We will face into elections, north and south. There will be a sustained effort in these campaigns by the opponents of Irish Unity and Irish republicanism to stop the advances we have made in recent years.
But I believe that we as Irish Republicans are up to the task. We have an opportunity to realise the objective for which brave IRA Volunteers died here 47 years ago.
A united, independent Irish Republic is not rhetoric for us, it is a real and live political project which if we are prepared to work hard and win even more people to our objective will be achieved. That is a responsibility we all share.