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Cullinane - All Ireland structures must be developed

28 February, 2004

Sinn Féin EU candidate for the South, David Cullinane speaking during the peace process session of the party's Ard Fheis called on political parties, north and south, to put their energies into pursuing the all Ireland and equality agenda, rather than pursuing an anti-Sinn Féin, anti-peace process agenda.' Mr. Cullinane said:

The Good Friday Agreement, as republicans have said on many occasions is not a republican document. It does however, offer republicans a template to actively pursue our legitimate aim of a United Ireland. The considerable potential of all-Ireland structures for governance, as provided for within the Agreement and adopted by a majority of people, north and south, has created a new political dispensation and framework to enhance the re-unification agenda. Sinn Féin is the political party leading the all-Ireland agenda.

As an Irish republican party, Sinn Féin is committed to the development of the all-Ireland structures necessary to foster an Ireland of equals, structures which will impact positively on all aspects of Irish life and society. The all-Ireland agenda isnot, as some Unionists and others would have use see it, a sop to Nationalists and Republicans, it is real and offers positive opportunities for all the people of Ireland. It entails the complete integration of Ireland's political, economic, cultural and social environment. It is of value to people from Derry to Kerry and from Waterford to Belfast.

In this period of transition that we, as republicans, find ourselves in today, the all-Ireland element of the Good Friday Agreement is a vehicle for driving Sinn Féin's all Ireland agenda towards a society of equality and justice for all. Sinn Féin, at all levels of our party, must promote and seek to expand the effective remits of the all-Ireland institutions. The all Ireland Consultative Forum, the Joint Parliamentary Forum, the all Ireland Charter of Human Rights adn the all Ireland Ministerial Council are institutions we need to develop and expand.

It is evident that the unitary logic that informs the work of these all Ireland instituitons represents a step towards the ultimate integration of existing systems of administration and government, taking us closer to a United Ireland. This is why we see so much opposition tothem from within Unionism and the British establishment. That is why we must ensure that not only do they work but that they grow and expand. They offer us a road map to a United Ireland.

Irish people, north and south, who suffer discrimination in such areas as housing, health, education, employment and social services are entitled to redress and justice. These vital issues are within the competency of the social partners and the all-Ireland Consultative Forum. They have an essential role in advising the all Ireland Ministerial Council on the implementation of an all Ireland anti poverty and social inclusion strategy.

Economic, political and social reconfiguration on an all Ireland basis holds out the prospect of substantial opportunities in many sectors of society. You cannot partition issues from health to education, agriculture to environment. Sinn Féin believes the all Ireland Implementation Bodies should become more dynamic, with work programmes that complement the expanded remit of the all Ireland Ministerial Council.

The six areas currently identified as areas of co-operation - health, agriculture, transport, education, tourism and the environment should be replaced with Implementation Bodies. New Implementation Bodies on justice, policing, energy and the social economy should be established. The Good Friday Agreement and the new political dispensation in Ireland provide a potential framework to address the needs of people in real and measurable ways.

The creation of all Ireland institutions was not an exercise in window dressing. They offer real and immense opportunities to develop island wide politics capable of delivering on the bread and butter issues within the overall rfepublican aim of progressing an Ireland of equals, based on social inclusion and a human rights agenda. With the conviction which underpins our party to promote an equality agenda, we cannot and will not allow that opportunity to be squandered.

In terms of the all Ireland and equality agenda, we in Sinn Féin are leading the way. We encourage other political parties, north and south, to put their energies into pursuing this agenda rather than pursuing what is at times an anti Sinn Féin, anti peace process agenda. The all Ireland agenda is for all of the people. Equality threatens no one. The people of Ireland, north and south, voted overwhelmingly for the Good Friday Agreement. Let us all together, channel our collective energies to ensure that reintegration and reunification is an actionable reality.

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