Adams expects North talks to conclude soon
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD and Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD are in New York where they addressed the annual Friends of Sinn Fein dinner last night.
The event and other meetings over the next few days are an opportunity for the Sinn Féin leaders to brief Irish America on the current state of the political process in Ireland.
For centuries, and especially in 1916 and during the peace process, Irish America has played an invaluable role.
Speaking to a large gathering in New York last night on the current efforts to resolve outstanding issues impacting on the political institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Adams said:
“This year, no less than other years, has seen serious efforts made to undermine the political institutions. We have another crisis. I'm sure many of you said to yourselves ‘Not again. What is it this time?’
“It’s the same old story. It’s about resistance to change which is particularly strong within elements of unreconstructed unionism and the British security system. These folks try their best to frustrate the necessary process of change.
“They have been aided in this by the failure of the two Governments to engage consistently and a contrived political crisis by the unionist parties around the brutal murders of two men in Belfast.
“The background to this is the ongoing talks to implement the Stormont House Agreement. I expect these negotiations will come to a conclusion soon. They are dealing with budgetary matters and sustainable political institutions. The new political dispensation requires a workable Budget.
“Both Governments also have a responsibility to honour capital investment commitments on cross-border projects.
“The talks are also dealing with contentious parades, the question of identity, paramilitarism and criminality. Paramilitarism and criminality are in some cases inextricably linked. Sinn Féin has been in the vanguard of the battle against violent unionism and those masquerading as the IRA.
“In many instances, we have been on our own. Martin McGuinness, in particular, has been deserted by unionist leaders when he challenged the actions of the UVF and other paramilitary groups. So, in the time ahead Sinn Féin will continue to lead from the front on these matters.
“There is no rationale or reason for armed groups except self-gain for those involved. Measures must also be put in place to support those who want to end paramilitarism or their involvement in such groups.
“Sinn Féin has also stood with victims of crime and with communities and alongside An Garda Síochána and the PSNI against criminality. We have paid a price for this. There have been attacks on our homes and families and some of us are under death threat. But we will not desist.
“The party which stood firmly against the excesses of the Orange state and British occupation will not be knocked off course by the actions of criminals.
“There has also been an effort by some in Fianna Fáil and in the Irish Government to put the focus on the IRA. The motivation for this, at this time, is obvious. Sinn Féin is growing in strength across the island of Ireland.
“We hope to do well in the General Election. We are seeking a mandate to be in Government. Our opponents fear this.
“They know a strong Sinn Féin party, organised across Ireland and with mass support, is the best vehicle to deliver Irish unity and the end of Partition and the Union.
“We also represent a viable alternative to right-wing conservatism and austerity with policies based on equality and fairness.
“The talks are also dealing with what are called legacy issues. The British Government does not want a light to illuminate the past. They have introduced legislation, in direct contravention of the Stormont House Agreement, which seeks to prevent the victims of British state terrorism from getting the truth.
“Despite these difficulties Sinn Féin is not deterred. The Executive, the Assembly and the all-Ireland institutions have worked better for citizens than the years of direct rule by unaccountable British Ministers.
“So our focus is on resolving the current difficulties, promoting greater all-Ireland co-operation and continuing our efforts to reach out to unionists and build relationships based on equality.”