Adams visits Cuba
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD is in Cuba on an official visit.
In the course of his first day he held a series of meetings, including with Cuban Vice President Salvador Antonio Valdés Mesa, and a range of senior Ministers in the government and leaders in the National Assembly.
The Sinn Féin leader also met with representatives of the Central Committee.
Gerry Adams said:
“Sinn Féin has had fraternal ties with Cuba for many years. There is a close connection between the Irish people and the people of Cuba.
“I last visited Havana 14 years ago and I was keen to return to discuss the dramatic and historic diplomatic and political developments that are occurring in US - Cuban relationships.
“Sinn Féin has long opposed the embargo imposed by the USA for the last five decades. Its economic, cultural and human cost on the people of Cuba has been enormous.
“The interests of Latin America and especially of Cuba and the USA are best served by an end to the embargo and the creation of a new relationship based on mutual respect and equality.
“As we have learned in the Irish peace process, and in our own experience of conflict resolution, the exclusion and demonising of opponents never works and doesn’t solve problems.
“Sinn Féin believes in dialogue as the best means of resolving disputes between individuals, peoples and states. However, for it to be successful it requires vision and leadership and a willingness to take risks for peace and for progress.
“The recent rapprochement in relations between the USA and Cuba opens up the possibility of an end to the embargo. The relaxation of some aspects of it is already assisting the Cuban economy, particularly in respect of tourism. But the embargo must go in its entirety.
“Leadership demands a preparedness to see opportunity where before there was none; and then to have the courage to take the next step and make it happen. It's about seizing the moment.
“It's about refusing to be defined by the past and to be willing to be open to new ideas, new concepts and the possibility of making friends with former enemies.
“Key to the progress we have witnessed thus far has been the leadership demonstrated by President Raul Castro and by President Obama.
“The positive and supportive efforts and encouragement of Pope Francis has also been important.
“I commend President Castro and President Obama. I also commend Cuba's role in facilitating the Colombian peace process.
“These developments are creating a new positive dynamic in the relationships of these neighbours and a beacon of hope and reconciliation in difficult times.”