Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Martina Anderson - Unionist Outreach

17 February, 2006

Moving motion 51 on behalf of the Ard Comhairle.

This motion reaffirms our commitment to proactively engage with Unionism and Civil Society.

Our strategy has always been about engaging all the people of Ireland in building a community for change. And that means: all of the people.

From 1916 onwards, through the armed campaign and now into the Peace Process, Irish Republicans have been conscious that it is British Imperialism which maintains continued division of our people and our nation.

At the same time, we never doubted that the Brits maintained their rule through creating and supporting a unionist garrison; which, in return for some crumbs from the Brit table, maintained their power and privilege in their statelet.

We all know the lie that the British Government spewed forth that they were merely honest brokers, standing between two warring tribes; when, inevitably and tragically, opposing British rule in Ireland forced us to take on the military garrison.

The Brits acquired, ruled and sustained an empire on which "the sun never set", by precisely these methods. There is nothing new in any of this.

As a result of our long struggle, we believe that now we have an opportunity to deliver the peaceful development of a new, shared Ireland, without sectarianism or discrimination.

Despite the duplicity and stalling activities of the British Government and the Securocrats, we engaged and continue to do so in good faith and with confidence.

At the end of the day, we know that the democratic institutions envisaged in the GFA are not those demanded by Britain. They arose as a result of negotiations in which we played a major part. The mother of all parliaments is not enamoured with Human Rights, or Democracy or Justice.

The great tragedy, in all of this, is that there are those, lost in the middle, whose sympathies lie with the status quo, when the status quo has got to change.

In playing the Orange Card and acquiescing to the Paisleyites, the British encourage those who stand against progress to think that they might retain their power - that things have not changed.

But they have changed!

Whatever lies the Brits speak, Republicans have the confidence to call out to those in the garrison: Let us together play a part in shaping a new Ireland for the benefit of all our people! We need the lofty ideals of progressive Protestantism which gave birth to both modern democracy and egalitarianism.

We are those who faced the armour of the oppressor through history, an oppressor who sought to impose autocracy and discrimination ˆ inequality.

We are now coming up to you: unarmed, and we ask you to speak with us, as equals, as human beings; to put away your guns, and to dispatch forever the British war machine from our fair isle.

Engage with us, in shaping this new Ireland. Not a 32 County rip-off republic, but a new and better Ireland, based on equality and human rights for all.

We, in Sinn Féin, are determined to drive this process forward to its conclusion alongside the people of this country, obliging all other parties to live up to their historic obligations. I ask you to support this motion.

Connect with Sinn Féin