Gerry Adams highlights new phase of republican struggle at Wolfe Tone Commemoration
Speaking today at Bodenstown Churchyard where the party’s annual Theobald Wolfe Tone commemoration took place, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said republicanism had entered a new phase of struggle, and whilst the party must continue to advance in the north the front line has clearly shifted to the south.
Mr Adams said:
“The last six months have seen groundbreaking historic political developments. Sinn Féin successfully negotiated an unprecedented deal with the DUP restoring the Assembly and all-Ireland institutions, now has 3 Assembly members on the new policing board holding the PSNI to account and in the Assembly elections the party increased its number of seats to 28 garnering 26% of the votes cast.
“Just 8 weeks after the Assembly elections the 26-county general election took place. Expectations were high, perhaps unrealistically so and whilst our vote increased by over 20,000 the party’s vote fell in some crucial areas.
“A critical and inclusive analysis began immediately within the party and will continue in the weeks ahead. Leadership is needed from within party structures at all levels.
“Young republicans are emerging as effective political leaders and need as of right to take up their places as we develop the public profile of the 26 county element of our national leadership.
“Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party operating in two jurisdictions with their own political cultures and different political realities that have developed since partition. What we are attempting to is unprecedented.
“We need to build republicanism in both parts of Ireland making it relevant to citizens in the political conditions in which they live, whilst at the same time winning support for an end to partition.
“We have now embarked on the most difficult but potentially most rewarding phase of our struggle. Over the summer a 2 year programme of work will be agreed consolidating our 26-county leadership and making detailed organisational and electoral preparations for 2009.
“This is the first phase of a longer term strategy to consolidate and to build Sinn Féin as a coherent political alternative in this state. It is clear that the new government and the auction politics that underpinned the election will not deliver a republican programme.
“The health system is in disarray. Parents have to weigh up when they can afford take a child to the doctor. Older people are afraid to go to hospital. Does anyone believe that this government, which is committed to privatising medicine, will resolve these problems?
“Young people cannot afford a home. There are thousands on affordable and social housing waiting lists. Parents cannot afford childcare. Public services remain in crisis.
“We are republicans. We believe people are equal and should be treated equally. We have put forward clear proposals on all these matters. If we really want to be in a position to deliver our vision then we must win support for it. That means getting better at what we do and learning the lessons of this time.”