Gerry Adams addresses Friends of Sinn Féin Dinner in New York
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP spoke by live satellite link up to a packed capacity crowd who were standing and cheering at the Friends of Sinn Féin dinner in New York City last night.
Mr Adams said:
"I believe the recent initiatives by the IRA have opened up a new phase in Irish political life.
We now have the ability to develop strategies and policies which can positively change the future of Ireland and reshape the type of country that we want to live in for our future generations as well as this generation.
Consultation, engagement, persuasion and negotiation with a view to securing active support for a united Ireland must be the means towards these ends.
And in all of this, the contribution Irish America has made has been enormous. With the progress we have made this year and the potential that is now opening up for us, we need your support even more than ever.
But let me also now deal with the issue of Policing which appears to have been at the root of the disappointing decision taken by the U.S. Administration to refuse me a fundraising visa.
Nationalists and republicans need and want to be policed. We are a law abiding community.
Look at the facts:
"The crime rate is one of the lowest in the developed world and less than half the British average" (source: Invest NI website)
The north of Ireland "has the second lowest crime rate in Europe." (source: NI Tourist Board website)
And this despite the fact that for much of the 20th century we did not have a policing service - we had a political police force, a sectarian paramilitary force.
Just as a 'Protestant state for a Protestant people' became the hallmark of the state, so too did the state police.
The Good Friday Agreement is about changing all that was wrong with the northern state - tackling discrimination against Catholics, resolving deep rooted human rights and equality issues, constitutional and institutional matters and of course creating a new start for policing and justice.
The agreement declared that our society needed a new beginning to policing and defined the criteria for a civic policing service. That is the position Sinn Féin supports. Achieving this is a priority issue and task for Sinn Féin. Let me repeat that - Sinn Féin is for policing.
But Sinn Féin refuses to accept less than the Agreement and while others chose to support the current policing arrangements we carried on and won the argument for amending legislation which brings the policing dispensation closer to the Good Friday Agreement proposals.
This is the position Sinn Féin has put to the electorate in successive election in the north over the last 8 years. Our vote has substantially increased. The nationalists electorate clearly supports our analysis and our stand.
No one will take our decisions for us or force us into taking up positions which are untenable or unsustainable. It is our party, in consultation with our electorate and our support base which will take the decision to embrace a genuine new beginning to policing.
I made it clear to the U.S. Government that the creation of the new beginning to policing, in accordance with the principles of the Good Friday Agreement is what Sinn Féin is determined to achieve. And in my view we have made substantial progress.
I believe we will get policing right - or as right as policing ever can be." ENDS