Potential for a progressive consensus – Gerry Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today said there is now “the potential for a progressive consensus among parties like Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance, the Greens, People before Profit, and individual MLAs who have advocated equality measures.”
He added that there is a need for political leaders “to co-operate with other progressives to create real changes in peoples’ lives based on everyone’s right to equality.”
Writing in his weekly Andersonstown News column the Sinn Féin leader said:
“The 2017 Assembly election has enabled a transformation unimaginable to the founders of the Northern state. Unionist majority domination of the local Assembly has come to an end.
“So too is the belief in a perpetual unionist majority in the North. Of course political unionism will try to regroup. There will be lots of talk of unionist unity. The sectarian card may be played yet again. So, the gains made for the future by last week’s vote have to be consolidated and increased in future contests. They have to be built upon. This requires a progressive agenda.
“Attitudes are also changing on other important issues. More and more people support Marriage equality for Gay or Lesbian citizens. There’s also widespread support for a Bill of Rights and an Irish Language Act. Equality is increasingly embraced as a concept on which to build decent living standards.
“More people want to see women having access to terminations of pregnancy on compassionate grounds and in limited circumstances.
“In other words, there is an increasing desire for a more compassionate, caring and tolerant society and it involves people from all political backgrounds particularly, but not exclusively young people.
“Of course the DUP is opposed to equality. But they no longer rule the roost. We must respect their mandate. But they also have to respect all the other mandates. All the other opinions. That requires an entirely new dispensation. Creating that is the biggest challenge of all.
“Brexit is the backcloth against which some of these changes are occurring. It has serious implications for human rights and for the Good Friday Agreement. In the farming sector, unionist farmers know that their best interests will not be served by Brexit despite the DUP support for this. Business people and the community and voluntary sector share these concerns.
“Whatever the outworking of demographics, the responsibility of political leaders must be to agree policies and programmes that reduce divisions, end sectarianism, build real equality for citizens and improve the daily lives of all our citizens. There is the potential for a progressive consensus among parties like Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance, the Greens, People before Profit, and individual MLAs who have advocated equality measures.
“We have to be prepared to set aside party differences and unite for positive change, recognising and valuing the differences that shape our society. That means progress on Acht na Gaeilge and marriage equality and other matters important to citizens, including anti-poverty measures, and social and economic issues. Parity of esteem for all our traditions is so vital to our future.
“The Assembly election presents all of us with a new opportunity to do things differently. I believe absolutely that Irish unity is the best outcome for all the people of this island. Sinn Féin will work to achieve that. But in the meantime there is a need to co-operate with other progressives to create real changes in peoples’ lives based on everyone’s right to equality. That has to be our overarching strategy in the time ahead.”
Note to Editor: The full text of Gerry Adams column is available at www.leargas.blogspot.com