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Gildernew - we won't let anyone deny our right to argue the case for Irish unity

5 March, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew speaking to motion 212 said:

We are committed to a democratic process which comes rights and responsibilities. We are aware that our enemies will stop at nothing to try and prevent our growth and in the face of that, we must be steadfast in our beliefs and determination.

We do not deny the right of Unionists to argue their case, but we won‚t let anyone deny our right to argue the case for a United Ireland.

We have a duty to respect the rights of minorities, even if they have maltreated us in the past and would do the same again, given the chance. The New Ireland will be judged by how it treats its minorities. That is the challenge we have accepted.

Parts of the media have tried to suggest that there has been a decline in support for Sinn Féin but the headline today will read "Sinn Féin support holds fast".

Look at the people who would try and vilify us - they are right wingers every one, with nothing to gain from equality and justice. They have degrees, but we have been educated in a spirit of comradeship in a cauldron of oppression. This country, no less than any other deserves that its people, North and South should have the right to decide the destiny of their nation. Are we forever to be subject to a border drawn by British politicians and the British military or are we determined to see this country free and unbridled by borders that disadvantage us? Clearly we are determined to set it free and we unlike others are working each and everyday to make it free, to unite our country and its people. That is what sets us apart from every other party on this island.

There have been those who have tried to deny us our identity, those who when they talk of the People of Ulster, not only dismiss Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal but dismiss the Nationalists of the six counties. Every single Sinn Féin strategy is designed to reassert the right of every Irishman and woman from this country to call themselves Irish.

Our people have been ambassadors to other countries, but we need to make Ireland stronger, economically, socially and politically, by unifying this country. Ultimately, there must be no question of British jurisdiction on this island as long as a majority of the people agree to that. Other countries must respect the wishes of the majority of the people on this island, just as we respect the sovereignty of other nations.

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