[Sinn Fein]

2nd March 2002

McLaughlin delivers United Ireland message in Australia

The Sinn Fein National Chairperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin, presently on a whistle stop tour of major centres of population in Australia, including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth has been receiving an enthusiastic reception among Politicians and the Australian/Irish community.

Mitchel mapped out the progression of the political and peace processes to the audiences that he addressed and explained why he and Sinn Fein believe that this progression on both fronts clearly shows the direction in which the tide of history is flowing.

Mr. Mc Laughlin predicted that within 15 years, we would be in the infancy of a United Republic of Ireland and urged Unionists to recognise the inevitable trend and to start now to negotiate the shape of such a constitutional eventuality.

Referring to the next ten to fifteen years as "the end phase" in the countdown to a United Ireland the Sinn Fein Chairperson told his Australian audiences:

' It's been at times an uncertain process with many difficulties and obstacles but with determination and confidence we continue to pursue our strategy and I believe that finally the end is now in sight. We are in the end-game.

Despite the problems - and many of those problems remain - there has been very significant progress from an Irish Republican perspective. We believe that we are now approaching the end of what has been a very long and historic struggle for national independence.

We are coming to a point where I believe it can be confidently predicted that within this generation the British link, the British governmental and administrative involvement in Ireland will be brought to a peaceful and democratic conclusion."

Mr. Mc Laughlin commented:

"I believe that more and more unionists are realizing the futility of duplication of services and government structures on a small island of 5.5 million people. I believe that the unionist business community sees its economic future in a one island one economic system.

My party, Sinn Fein, wants to see a United Ireland . because we genuinely believe that the reunification of Ireland is the best option for the people of Ireland. Republicans are endeavouring to develop positions and mechanisms that will persuade unionism that its interests will also be better served in a united Ireland - a new agreed Ireland - and to assist them in whatever way we can in that transition.

We will continue to impress on the unionist people the significant role they can play in the development of that new agreed Ireland as approximately 20% of an Irish national democracy as opposed to the impossibility as a 2% micro group in a British political system of making any impact on policy decisions that directly affect their electorate.

Addressing the political representatives in the audiences the Sinn Fein chairperson stressed: "Those in the international community can also assist by using their influence to persuade Unionist political leaders that it is in the interests of those that they represent to enter into open and honest debate about the best future for all the people of Ireland. By using its influence the international community can also impress on the British government the importance of it being scrupulously impartial in its dealings with the pro-Union and pro-United Ireland opinion. British Government representatives cannot publicly declare that they are unionists and at the same time claim to be acting in an impartial capacity. The British government too needs to recognise the direction that change is taking us and prepare for the inevitable outcome. Irish Unity.

Just as it is illogical that a small island nation of slightly over 5 million people should have two political structures, two economies, two transport systems, two Education, Agriculture, Health, tourism etc systems - so too is it logical that we develop one judicial system, one policing system and one army devoid of sectoral influences or interests - in one democracy. That is the direction that I believe will lead us to a permanent resolution of this ancient conflict. If we continue to build on the political institutions that are now in place I believe that that is the direction that we are going. Towards a new agreed Ireland of equals in which the old suspicions and fears of the past can be deposited in the dustbin of history. With the support and assistance of the international community - and Australia with its historical links with both Ireland and Britain is well placed to influence the political players in the process - I believe that this generation will witness the establishment of a sovereign independent Republic of Ireland in the foreseeable future.

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