Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Launch of Sinn Fein Discussion Document on Irish Unity in County Meath

31 August, 2005

Present at the Press Conference were Cllr Joe Reilly, Cllr Connor Ferguson, Cllr Anne Gibney, Cllr Michael Gallagher, Sean Gunning and Chairperson of Comhairle Ceanntair na Mi Mr John Lynch.

Mr John Lynch, Chairperson of Comhairle Ceanntair na Mi introduced the Speakers, Sean Gunning and Cllr Joe Reilly and the Sinn Elected Representatives present.

John Lynch said:

The purpose of this press conference is launch a campaign in Co. Meath to move Ireland towards unity and independence. It is both necessary and prudent for the Irish people to engage in the shape, form and nature that a re-united Ireland will take. inn Féin believes that there is a responsibility on the Irish government to bring forward a strategy to achieve National determination, Irish reunification, political independence, sovereignty and nation reconciliation. Sinn Féin in Meath is launching the campaign to get the Irish government to initiate this process and bring forward a Green Paper on Irish Unity. We will be taking this campaign to every corner of the county in the coming months and seek support from each individual who want to bring unification about by democratic means.

The campaign will include;

The campaign launch

The distribution of the "Green Paper on Irish Unity, A Sinn Féin Discussion Paper" to all political parties and business and voluntary community groups in County Meath.

A public leafleting campaign

A Public Meeting in mid September to be addressed by Mr Conor Murphy the newly elected MP for Newry/ Armagh.

Motions to Councils

Invitation to public debate to all political parties in Co Meath.

Statement by Sean Gunning:

My name is Sean Gunning, Robert Emmet Cumann, Athboy, & Meath Sinn Fein. I am honoured to be here today, at the launch the Sinn Fein Discussion Document, calling on the Government to introduce a Green Paper on Irish Unity.

In a recent local newspaper report, a senior Fianna Fail Government Minister, from the Meath Constituency, speaking at the McGill Summer School, referred to the aim of achieving a United Ireland, as being part of a "very narrow view of Irish Republicanism". As a former member of Fianna Fail for over twenty five years, and having served in a variety of positions within the party, ranging from Ogra Chairman, in Dublin Rathmines West (now Dublin South Central), to more recently having spent over ten years as Secretary of Kells Fianna Fail Comhairle Ceantair, this came as something of a surprise to me. I was under the impression, for all those years, that the aim of a United Ireland, was a key aim of Fianna Fail.

Fianna Fail labels itself as a Republican party, it has taken absolutely no steps to explain, either, what type of United Ireland it envisages or how intends to achieve it.

In any democratic, political party system, there is a moral obligation on a party, in Government, to further it‚s main aims, through whatever democratic avenues are available.

In this discussion document, Sinn Fein has highlighted these avenues, and the manner in which they can be achieved. Most of these mechanisms are already provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, and if fully implemented, allow for progress through consultation , and negotiation, on a broad range of issues, across the broadest spectrum of opinion. It is essential that, within this process, the Irish Government act as a persuader towards Irish Unity, because, as the discussion document points out, we are talking not just about a re-unification of territory, but the re-integration of people.

This re-integration is not just within the six counties, but across the entire island of Ireland, and to this end, the discussion document proposes that public representatives in the six counties, both Republican, and Unionist, have speaking, and consultative rights, in the Dail, and that Seanad, and Presidential electoral rights be extended to citizens in the six counties.

If we are really serious about Irish re-unification, we must take action to ensure that all sections of our people, both North and South, feel included in these processes. We are, at present, at a historic juncture. The way is open for an imaginative, and progressive approach to achieving the re-unification of our country.

This Sinn Fein discussion document, lays out clearly, our vision, our approach, and the many mechanisms available to us, to do this. We call on Fianna Fail, as the main Government party, to introduce a Green Paper, outlining it's vision of a United Ireland and it‚s strategy, towards achieving it. It is now time that actions replace the occasional rousing speech at an annual Árd Fhéis. May I also add that contrary to media reports I am not encouraging Fianna Fail members to leave the party but I am encouraging them to raise the issues within Fianna Fail.

This Sinn Fein discussion document provides the framework for such a Green Paper. It is difficult to see any proposals in this discussion document, which would be difficult for any Irish Republican to accept. I urge all Fianna Fail supporters, activists, and public representatives to read this discussion document, and to lobby the Government, to advance the cause of Irish unity, while they are in a position to do so. The first step in this process must be the introduction of a Green Paper on Irish Unity.

Contribution from Cllr Joe Reilly:

Working for Irish Unity is the principle upon which all the main political parties of this state established themselves. Whether it‚s under the banner of the United Ireland Party, as Fine Gael has called itself, or under the Republican Party banner of Fianna Fáil or under Sinn Féin or Labour they all claim to want Irish unity. I have always been confident that the majority of people on this island also want a united Ireland ˆ regardless of where they put there X on a ballot paper. For me the cause of Irish unity is crucial for the development of the whole island - economically, socially and politically. It is unfortunate therefore that some parties in recent times have sought to address the issue only in the negative.

We now have parties in this state whose pronouncements on Irish unity are more akin to unionists and loyalists than they are to their founding fathers. We need to move beyond sterile politics that is only aimed at scoring cheap political points rather than address fundamental issues of importance to this whole island national It is time for people to put their money where their mouth is. I am for a united Ireland ˆ I make no apologies for that. I would like other people to be equally forthright if that is what there traditional party position is. I believe that the IRA campaign of the last thirty years has been too easily and readily used as an excuse to not even talk about the concept of Irish unity - never mind actually purposefully pursuing it.

That is why I believe that the publication of this call by Sinn Féin for the Irish Government to publish a Green Paper on Irish Unity is timely. With the end of the IRAs campaign all possible excuses for not engaging in this debate have been swept aside. As this publication says it is not good enough to merely wish for a united Ireland - we must actively work for it and actively plan for it. Obviously the reality of Irish unity is not going to come about over night - nor would it be desirable to have such an outcome.

There are massive challenges for us all - not least the challenge of encouraging unionists that their best interests lie in building a future based on equality with the rest of us who share this small island. In that the Irish and British Governments have a central role in preparing for eventual Irish unity. That job of work must start now. Sinn Féin has made its position clear. They see the need for the planned integration of the national territory. The Government should set out in a Green Paper how it sees a united Ireland coming about. ENDS

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