Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Gerry Adams sets out Sinn Fein plan to elect First and Deputy First ministers

21 May, 2006

Speaking in advance of tommorrows effort to elect a first and deputy first minister Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today said:

"Leadership means making difficult decisions. The alternative means accepting the status quo. That includes sectarianism.

Sinn Féin believes that politicians, whatever the differences, between us must do our utmost to prevent that. Sectarianism must be tackled anderadicated. If it is not, then like Michael McIlveen,more of our young people will fall foul of it.

It is my firm view that leaders must lead by example. I have never believed in the politics of condemnation. They have delivered little and are no substitute for leadership.

This is the context for my decision to nominate Ian Paisley as First Minister. It is intended to send a very clear and positive signal to two elements of unionism. The first of these is to political unionism and particularly the DUP.

If they want political power it has to be under the Good Friday Agreement and on the basis of equality. That means in government with Sinn Féin.

The second message is to wider unionist opinion. The intention is to signal very clearly to them that despite the difficulties involved and apprehension among some sections of nationalism, Sinn Féin is prepared to accept Ian Paisley as First Minister.

Some, including sections of the media have dismissed this initiative as a stunt.

Others have expressed outrage. They appear to be equally representative of both nationalist and unionist tendencies.

Despite this I believe it is the right thing to do and it is my intention on Monday to proceed with nominating the DUP leader and Martin McGuinness to the positions of First and Deputy First Ministers respectively.

While Sinn Fein is deeply opposed to the policies and politics of the DUP and mindful of their record, we recognise and respect their electoral mandate. Ian Paisley has the right to the post of First Minister under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

It may be that Ian Paisley will refuse to accept a nomination at this time. That is his choice. But as Sinn Fein has said numerous times the only reason we are participating in the Peter Hain Assembly is to get the power sharing executive re-established.

This cannot happen without the First and Deputy First Minister being nominated. If my motion on Monday is unsuccessful we will seek to return to this business at the earliest possible time.

Understandably there is a lot of scepticism about whether Ian Paisley will ever lead his Democratic Unionist Party into the Executive with the rest of us. I think everyone who is committed to the Good Friday Agreement  should suspend our scepticism and make a good faith effort to get the Executive up and running.

If Ian Paisley does not play his part then its over to the two governments to get rid of the Assembly and to proceed with all other aspects of the Agreement.

The best way forward however is with local politicians in charge." ENDS

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