Our struggle is stronger now than at any time in recent history - Seán Crowe
late in their attacks against our struggle? Why now? The answer is because our struggle is stronger now than at any time in recent history." ENDS
Full text of speech follows:
I would like to begin by extending a Cead Mile Failte to you all and to the many who traveled from long distances especially from the Six Counties.
I stand here proudly today in my own City a Sinn Fein TD, an elected member of a party that has been the story of every election over the last decade. A political movement that continues to grow and represents 342,000 voters on the Island of Ireland.
As we stand here today, the current political atmosphere and cozy consensus is aimed at criminalizing Sinn Fein and the republican struggle. Every day a new or rehashed story appears in the print, radio or television media.
Republicans are to blame that is the mantra, the lie that is being peddled.
In previous years it was reds under the bed. Now its republicans, not only under the bed, but also over it and in the dam bed. And if we're to believe some the stories them we are trying to rob the bed as well.
Peace talks break down over Unionist intransigence republicans are to blame. More British troops in the North than in Iraq years nearly 10 years into a cessation, republicans are to blame. More repressive laws introduced North and South republicans must be blamed.
Inequalities in Ireland, the state of our Health service, people lying on trolleys, the inability of couples to buy their own home, the trains and busses don't arrive, children going to school hungry are republicans to blame?
British sponsored death squads were republican's responsible? People discriminated in jobs and housing were republicans by highlighting and f ighting injustice to blame? British involvement in Ireland were we to blame? Did republicans ever invite them into our country?
And when the North erupted in 1969 was it republicans or the real criminals the political establishment who stood idly by when tens of thousands people were burnt out of their homes in a sectarian pogrom?
Politicians in this state would like to criminalize not this generation of republicans but the legacy of people like the men and women who fought in the GPO 1916. In doing so they are attempting to criminalize men and women without whom the very existence of this state would not have been possible.
In every generation the 'powers that be' have attempted to criminalize the freedom seekers and the revolutionaries. The British have always found willing Irish allies in this. It was the Irish Independent newspaper that called for the execution of James Connolly in 1916. No change there. It was the Irish Catholic Church that excommunicated the Fenians and those who fought against the Black and Tans in this City.
Every generation of republicans were labeled criminal in their time. Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger strikers gave the answer to Britain's criminalization policy in the 1980s. But in every generation there were people like Bobby Sands.
Let us reiterate here today that it is not a crime and never was a crime to seek to end the injustice of partition. It is never a crime to pursue the independence and freedom of Ireland.
And why have the political and media establishment in this state become so rabid of late in their attacks against our struggle? Why now? The answer is because our struggle is stronger now than at any time in recent history.
Let us just take the state of Sinn Fein here in Dublin as a case study. It has made remarkable progress. As we stand here today, Sinn Fein in Dublin is represented by 14 Councilors, two TDs and an MEP. We represent over 60,000 Dubliners. That is no criminal conspiracy. That is a political party with real mass and growing support.
That is why our opponents have turned up the volume against us. But it is also why their tactics will fail. There are republicans gathered here who maintained the republican flame during leaner times and they can attest to the fact that we have been through all of this before. The tactics used against us in the past failed. But they will fail more conclusively this time because of the huge support that we command across this country North and South East and West.
A Chairde, we must not be diverted by the dirty tactics of our opponents. Nor should we be surprised, if you think about what we are attempting to achieve. And we are deadly serious. That is something that the privileged elite in this country understands and wishes to prevent. So the viciousness of their attacks should come as no surprise.
We have much work to do. Soon our organization will face into elections to Westminster. We will undoubtedly increase our representation there, confirming that Sinn Fein is the undisputed political voice of Northern nationalists. And of course the next General Election in this state is not too far away. As I said earlier we are deadly serious about bringing about change in our lifetime. That involves increasing our electoral and political strength across this island so that we can begin to build the New Ireland that republicans have struggled for down through the centuries. That is the responsibility we carry on our shoulders. Let us nurture and carry that burden with pride.
Go raibh math agaibh go leir.