Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Adams - Hopes for the Future - Working with Unionists

20 October, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, on the third day of his official visit to South Africa, spoke to a specially convened session of the South African Parliament in Capetown.

Mr Adams thanked Deputy Speaker Geoff Doidge for inviting him to Parliament and for this "exceptional honour".

Mr Adams said:

"Your success is a beacon of light and encouragement for all those struggling throughout the world for freedom and democracy."

"As we in Ireland seek to make political progress following the recent IRA initiatives we understand that one of the greatest single challenges facing us, as we seek to achieve Irish unity, is engaging with our unionist neighbours.

"The reality and legacy of the partition of Ireland meant that a section of our people - the unionists - were given a special status.

"The peace process has created a new dynamic for change which many unionists find threatening. They are afraid that they will lose out economically and politically; that the traditional roles will be reversed and that they will suffer disadvantage and discrimination.

"Irish republicans will not condone or be part of such developments. The underpinning principle, which guides our politics, is equality. This means working in partnership with those unionists who will work with us to ensure a better future for all our people.

"Peace and political stability brings many benefits. That is evident here in South Africa. It can happen in Ireland.

"Sinn Fein is committed in the time ahead to pro-actively engage with unionists, to talk with them, share concerns, ideas, and seek a vision of the future in which all of us can feel comfortable and be prosperous. I believe we can achieve this. I believe the example set by South Africa marks the path which we too must follow.

"The father of Irish republicanism described this in our context as the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. I am confident in the time ahead that with perseverance, patience and persistence this can be achieved." ENDS

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