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Border Poll inevitable - Adams

10 March, 2012 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking today in Gulladuff in south Derry and at a party conference dismissed Owen Patterson’s recent remarks on a border poll saying that the British Secretary of State “should not presume to arrogantly dictate to people here how we will conduct our affairs. Those days are over.”

The Sinn Féin leader added: “A border poll is inevitable. Mr Patterson knows this. It is only a matter of timing.”

Mr. Adams said:

“British Secretary of State Owen Patterson has dismissed the possibility of a border poll. He has also blocked an enquiry into the killing of Human Rights lawyer Pat Finucane despite this being part of an inter-governmental agreement at Weston Park. He is also blocking a Bill of Rights. And he has been less than helpful on other matters like the Irish language. And his imprisonment of Marion Price is entirely stupid and unjust.

But Mr. Patterson would not be one the most adroit or skillful British Secretaries of State to have been imposed on us. His remarks on the border poll have to be seen in this context.

Mr. Patterson is also a supporter of the Union. That is the position of his government at this time. Sinn Féin is not naive about this. The Tory party had to be pulled kicking and squealing into the peace process.But now under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the Tory/lib Dem government has specific obligations. Despite the foot dragging that has characterised its attitude to this agreement and other agreements so far, Sinn Féin has no intention of acquiescing to British Tory game playing.

Owen Patterson is but one of a long line of political overlords that Irish republicans have had to deal with, with great patience in the past.

Obviously there are elements of the Good Friday Agreement that Owen Patterson is unhappy about but he should not presume to arrogantly dictate to people here how we will conduct our affairs. Those days are over.

There will be a united Ireland.

By definition that will come when the people of our island have formed a cordial union of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. When a border poll is held Owen Patterson will have no vote on that issue. That is as it should be, entirely a matter for the people of Ireland.

The political landscape in the North has been transformed in recent years and there is growing support for a united Ireland. A border poll is inevitable. Mr Patterson knows this. It is only a matter of timing.

The united Ireland that Sinn Féin seeks is inclusive. All elements of society on the island of Ireland must be comfortable and secure in the system of governance that is agreed. It is essential that everyone has the fullest expression of their identity without intruding on the rights and entitlements of others. Diversity, equality and tolerance is the key to this.

Sinn Féin wants a united Ireland. Both governments are obliged to legislate for this. Like everyone else who is working for this very legitimate and logical objective Sinn Féin must demonstrate to unionists that a peaceful and prosperous future can best be achieved in a new union of the people of this island. Unionists must be persuaded that this is in their best interests.

Currently unionists remain isolated on the margins of the British political system where they make up 2 per cent of the population. In a united Ireland unionists would make up 20% of the population and be able to exercise real authority, power and influence.

Increased dialogue and engagement with the wider unionist constituency will challenge republicans. We need to engage in a full and open dialogue, including listening to unionist views, fears and apprehensions unconditionally.

It is important that every opportunity is taken to increase understanding and mutual respect. Republicans need to reach out in a real effort to heal differences and create trust with unionists.

Real reconciliation also means dealing with the legacy of conflict. That will challenge everyone — republicans, unionists and the Governments in London and Dublin. But it is essential as the process of change currently under way moves from conflict resolution to an entirely new society.

As we continue building towards a united Ireland, Sinn Féin must also offer solutions to the problems faced by citizens in the here and now.

We want a New Republic rooted in citizens rights and people centred. That also means the right to a decent quality of life, a job and social protections."

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