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Martina Anderson:Director of Unionist Outreach - Speech to Extraordinary Ard Fheis

28 January, 2007

Today is a watershed in the history of our struggle. There has been a historic consultation process and political leadership of the people. Previous decisions have been taken by the Army -- cessations, putting arms beyond use, but today's decision is the culmination of a process of a wide, an unprecedented consultation with activists, the party, the families of our patriot dead, and with the community which has born the brunt of the struggle down the years. We are no longer a struggle waged by a small band of brave and courageous people on behalf of the nation. Today we are taking decisions in consultation with the people.

The British has occupied Ireland in a manner best described by James Connolly -- to paraphrase, she keeps us quarrelling with each other whilst she robs and murders us all. Whilst neighbour-fears-neighbour, striking out against 'the other', we remain divided and without power to take charge of our own destinies. In those circumstances, we cannot hope to build an Ireland of equals, an inclusive Ireland, a democratic Socialist republic. This resolution is about empowerment of the people, all the people. It is a precondition to take our struggle forward; it is a programme to do so.

Of course nothing will be achieved by the passing a resolution alone, whilst it is a declaration of intent to build justice in our country. Policing will be only as accountable to the community, as we, the people, make it. This resolution is a programme for all those who seek justice, and equality in our community. We need to take them on, make policing answerable and bring the arrogance of power to book.

Comrades, we have taken them on before, and we continue to do so -- with the same fearless confidence. Cohesion is not about a head count of those who support a resolution, on paper, it is about how we go forward to make that resolution real, to work together to empower all the people, and bring down the arrogance of power, and end the humiliation of unaccountable policing, to bring to an end the practice of sectarianism, upon which British rule has been based. On that programme we will all go forward, tomorrow, together, as one risen, emboldened people, empowered by the courage, resilience and determination of a few.

If the lessons of Bloody Sunday thought us anything it is that we must hold those in power to account. And as I leave this stage to go to Derry to speak at the Bloody Sunday Commemoration - urge you -- not just to pass this resolution overwhelmingly, but also to get behind its intent and remove another pillar of the corrupt state from enemy hands.

After all, if war us the continuation of politics, then comrades, this is the reverse. I urge you to support the motion. If you cannot vote for it then abstain.

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