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Irish Government and Fianna Fáil must respect the vote in the north - Adams

29 June, 2016 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in Dublin tonight at a packed public meeting in Liberty Hall said;

“The Irish government has to think nationally – not in 26 county terms, but for the island of Ireland.

“As a co-equal guarantor of the agreement, the Irish government has a responsibility to defend the Good Friday Agreement and its political institutions.

“The Good Friday Agreement was based on three strand: Strand one is within the North; Strand 2 is the relationship between North and South; and Strand 3 is between East and West.

“It is unclear what impact this vote will have on the north-south strand and the integrity of the east-west element of the Agreement. The Brexit vote may well threaten the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement. There needs to be maximum cooperation between the government here and the Executive.”

Gerry Adams said;

“It is also very clear that a second referendum on Scottish independence is now firmly on the agenda.

“The Irish government and Fianna Fáil have been quick to talk about respecting the rights of the people of Scotland. Well, what about the rights of the people of the North. Or the people of this island.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael may not like it but this vote, along with the desire of many for Irish reunification, places a referendum for unity firmly on the agenda also.”

Concluding Gerry Adams said:

“I believe that the best destination for this journey is a united Ireland. Sinn Féin has a particular model – a republican form of government – which we want to establish but that ultimately is a matter for the Irish people.

“But we have to be prepared to put our views on the table for discussion and to listen and take on board the opinions and proposals of others.

“That means we must be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts. We need to open our minds to the ways in which the unionist people, and other sectors in our society, can find their place in any new arrangements that are agreed.

“We also need to be open to looking at transitional governmental arrangements that may facilitate the process of change. In any process of transition from a partitioned island with two jurisdictions to a united Ireland with one jurisdiction all of us have to go beyond our personal feelings on these issues.”

ENDS

Full speech follows:

Brexit - United Ireland Speech - 

29 June 2016

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

A chairde,

Last week, for only the second time since partition nationalists and unionists and republicans in the north voted together in common cause.

The first time was in 1998 when the people of the north rejected the DUP’s opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.

Last week unionists, republicans and nationalists repeated that extraordinary vote.

Once again the DUP view of the world was clearly rejected.

Arlene Foster led the leave campaign.

But the majority of citizens voted to remain within the EU.

Republicans and democrats have always had the view that the British government has no right to be in Ireland.

Sinn Féin is opposed to many aspects of the EU.

But it does not makes sense for one part of our island to be in the EU and the other outside of it.

For that reason we asked people to vote to remain.

Others hold a different view but they now must admit that the British government has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the people of the north in any future negotiations with the EU.

Their policy has been rejected by the people.

Unionists used to make a big deal about the majority in the North.

Well the majority have spoken clearly.

They have not given their consent to leave the EU.

Ba cheart é sin a ghlacadh.

The British and the Irish governments must accept that vote.

It should be upheld.

Some will say – and I heard this from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the Dáil on Monday – that we are bound by a so-called United Kingdom vote.

No - we’re not.

Sinn Féin stands by the needs of the Irish nation before those of Britain.

That means that the Irish government has to think nationally – not in 26 county terms, but for the island of Ireland.

It needs an island wide vision.

As a co-equal guarantor of the agreement, the Irish government has a responsibility to defend the Good Friday Agreement and its political institutions.

The Good Friday Agreement was based on three strands: Strand one is within the North; Strand 2 is the relationship between North and South; and Strand 3 is between East and West.

It is unclear what impact this vote will have on the north-south strand and the integrity of the east-west element of the Agreement.

The Brexit vote may well threaten the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement.

There needs to be maximum cooperation between the government here and the Executive.

The Democratic Unionist Party should also respect the remain vote.

The majority of people, including many unionists, rejected its exit policy.

It is also very clear that a second referendum on Scottish independence is now firmly on the agenda.

The Irish government and Fianna Fáil have been quick to talk about respecting the rights of the people of Scotland.

Well, what about the rights of the people of the North.

Or the people of this island.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael may not like it but this vote, along with the desire of many for Irish reunification, places a referendum for unity firmly on the agenda also.

A United Ireland is in the interests of the people of this state, as much as it is for the people of the North.

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have rejected the call for a referendum on Irish unity.

They are supposed to be persuaders of Irish Unity.

That is their constitutional obligation.

But they say this is the wrong time.

Does anyone here believe they will ever accept that there is a right time?

So we have a job of work to do to make this a real issue in this state.

The Brexit vote has demonstrated that citizens in the north are able to step beyond the barriers erected by partition.

That sectarian politics can be set aside.

The task of everyone, therefore, must be to agree policies and strategies that can minimise any problems that will arise as a consequence of Brexit.

It must also be about using this crisis to create a new Ireland and a new EU.

Sinn Féin has long been critical of the two-tier nature of the EU structures and the social and economic inequalities that are part of it.

In 1972, Sinn Féin and other progressives campaigned against membership of the EEC.

Over the decades since then we have modified our position to one of critical engagement.

We expressed our concerns at the dangers for Ireland as more and more decisions were ceded to unaccountable structures in the EU.

So, we also set out our objectives;

·      the reform and restructuring of the EU;

·      the decentralising of power;

·      the promotion of state democracy and economic and social justice;

·      and the creation of a 32 county political and economic identity within the EU.

Reform of the EU has been necessary for decades.

The unaccountable nature of the EU bureaucracy, and a decision making process that is often distant from citizens, was part of the reason for the Brexit vote.

The disgraceful treatment of Greece and the imposition of austerity policies on that state, and on the citizens of this state and others, also led to anger and frustration at the EU institutions.

The current crisis therefore presents an opportunity to advance the reform project – to transform the EU into something better.

Irish republicans want a different kind of European Union.

The current crisis also presents a historic opportunity to end the injustice of partition and to build a new Ireland.

This means grasping the opportunity to redesign the constitutional and political future of the island of Ireland and of Europe.

It also means ensuring that the equality and human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement are protected.

The island of Ireland is in transition.

The peace process and the Good Friday Agreement began that process.

We are all of us on a journey.

I believe that the best destination for this journey is a united Ireland.

Sinn Féin has a particular model – a republican form of government – which we want to establish but that ultimately is a matter for the Irish people.

But we have to be prepared to put our views on the table for discussion and to listen and take on board the opinions and proposals of others.

The political landscape is already changing.

Ireland is more multi-cultural than at any time in our history.

We need to address the genuine concerns of unionists.

We must be open to listening to unionism about what they believe the union with Britain offers citizens, especially in this new political context.

We need to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness.

That means we must be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts.

We need to open our minds to the ways in which the unionist people, and other sectors in our society, can find their place in any new arrangements that are agreed.

We also need to be open to looking at transitional governmental arrangements that may facilitate the process of change.

In any process of transition from a partitioned island with two jurisdictions to a united Ireland with one jurisdiction all of us have to go beyond our personal feelings on these issues.

So, there are challenging times ahead.

But there are huge opportunities for significant, even historic progress.

This month we celebrate the birth of Wolfe Tone.

The United Irish Society that he helped to found gave shape to the principles and ideals that have shaped Irish republicanism for 200 years.

His goal wasn’t just an independent Ireland.

He also sought to unite Irish citizens.

Tone wrote: “the weight of English influence in the Government of this country is so great as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce.”

This is our starting point – a belief in a new union – a cordial union of all the people of this island.

To live free and independent as equal and inclusive citizens in a new Ireland.

Sinn Féin seeks to reshape the Ireland of today; to end past divisions and resolve outstanding differences.

To build through reconciliation a new partnership and unity between people.

To pursue the happiness, peace, and prosperity for all the people.

To unite the orange and green.

Irish republicans have re-imagined Ireland.

We want to persuade others to re-imagine what that new Ireland can look like.

Join us in this endeavour.  Bígí linn.

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