Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Gerry Adams - Campaign for Irish unity steps up a gear

24 September, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a major rally for Irish Unity in Dublin City Centre this afternoon said:

"In the opening line of the diary he kept during the first two weeks of his hunger strike, Bobby Sands wrote: "I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world."

As Sinn Féin celebrates our first 100 years, Irish republicanism stands on the threshold of great change, of difficult challenges and great opportunities, and the possibility of achieving the united, independent, free Ireland previous generations have struggled for.

"On July 28th the IRA formally ended its armed campaign. This was a hugely courageous and important decision. It has changed the political context utterly. And I believe that the IRA in the near future is going to honour its commitment to put its weapons beyond use. Such an announcement will have a huge impact on the political process. I know it will be difficult for many republicans. There will be some who are concerned about the future. But I believe that we need to face up to this opportunity in a positive mood. This is not a time to be uncertain it is a time to be confident and energised and forward looking.

This is something that in many, many ways is a potentially huge sea change, not just for us but for the entire island. I don't think republicans have absorbed what it is about. I don't think the media have absorbed what it is about. I don't think our opponents have absorbed what it is about.

But when the IRA delivers, when our opponents and our enemies no longer have the IRA to use as an excuse, what are they going to do? Harking back to the old days is clearly not an option and I suspect that in their heart of hearts they know that.

We have a clear message for unionists. The days of second class citizenship are well and truly over. At the same time let no Irish republican or nationalist underestimate our responsibility to reach out to unionism, to pro-actively listen to their concerns and to find a space that they can share with us on the basis of equality. In calling upon Unionists to think beyond the moment, to think about the future, we are mindful that we need to do the same. We need to unite orange and green. We need to create a space that unionists can share with us on the basis of equality. That is a huge challenge for republicans.

There is a lot of work to do if we are to get the process back on track and get all of the guns out of Irish politics. Sinn Féin is about taking all of the guns out of Irish politics - Unionist paramilitaries, British Army and PSNI. I would like to think that the two governments and others in the political establishment will pay as much attention to this task as they did to silenced IRA weapons. We also need to see the Irish and British governments show real leadership and deal with all of the outstanding issues - these are not new issues, they are not new demands there are key parts of the Good Friday Agreement that have still to be implemented. As part of the outworking of the IRA's decision to end its campaign we need to see the release of all republican prisoners and an end to the ongoing discrimination against republican ex prisoners."

In the course of his speech Mr. Adams also called for the release of the Rossport 5, he said:

"I want to make a particular mention of the disgraceful incarceration of Micheál Ó Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath, Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin. It is a disgrace that these five men have been locked up in Cloverhill prison for almost 90 days for simply highlighting the fact that the pipeline bringing the oil in from the Corrib gas field is dangerous and poses a real threat to the community of Rossport. We need to be shouting from the rooftops that their detention is immoral as is the deal which saw the Irish government hand away natural resources worth billions of EURO to a small number of multi-national corporations with no return for the Irish people. These five men should be released immediately. I want to call on everyone here today to attend the rally next weekend and to increase the pressure on Shell, Statoil and the government." ENDS

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