[Sinn Fein]

31st March 2002

Adams calls on next Dáil to bring forward proposals on Irish unity

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a commemoration in Dublin to mark the 86th anniversary of the 1916 Rising said that Irish unity must cease to be an abstraction and become a concrete proposition. The Sinn Fein leader called on all of the parties to embark on a process of drawing up a Green Paper on Irish Unity in consultation with all interested parties and groups. Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are the only all-Ireland party. Our goal is to see a United Ireland which delivers real social and economic change. In recent years we have seen the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act, the creation of all Ireland institutions, some progress on the issue of northern representation in the Oireachtas and the removal of the unionist veto. And while all of this represents progress there is still much to be done.

"Republicans have always pointed out the obstacle to Irish unity posed by Britain, and that has not evaporated. But this is not the only block to unity. The reluctance of the political establishment in this state to genuinely embrace the concept of unity must be examined as well. Four score years have past since a Government was established in Dublin and it is incredible that in all of this time we have not even had a discussion Green Paper on the subject, never mind a policy White Paper come out of Leinster House.

"Establishment parties have no strategy, no medium and long-term goals, no notion of structures, no economic analysis, no costings, no outline legislative programme.

"What Sinn Fein is about - and what we have been doing in recent months - is setting out our roadmap to Irish unity and we believe that others should do the same. The primary objective at this time has to be to sustain the peace process and to build the political process and the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fein is wedded to this. But we continue to work for an end of the union. So Irish unity must cease to be an abstraction and become a concrete proposition.

"Here, today, I am formally calling on all of the parties to embark on a process of drawing up a Green Paper on Irish Unity in consultation with all interested parties and groups. Sinn Fein will naturally make a careful and studied input to such a process. But we also think that an Alliance for Irish Unity is needed which will draw upon all persons and organisations who are committed to that end.

"Ireland is moving towards Irish unity. The historical tide cannot be wished back. But as I have indicated previously, and reiterate now, republicans do not want unionists to be politically drowned in a sea of nationalism. We, in the original spirit of Tone, want them to be accommodated, to be included - to belong. We do not want them to be strangers in their own land, in our own land. Our Ireland is a shared Ireland, an inclusive Ireland.

"We want to engage now on the shape, form and nature that this will take. We want to quietly, persuasively and as friends and neighbours persuade unionists that they should not be afraid of taking a leap of imagination. Unionists should be prepared to put forward their vision for the future and to consider, discuss and engage with nationalists and republicans about the nature and form a new united Ireland will take.

"There is much work to do. And together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever."

Commenting on the current state of the peace process Mr. Adams said:

"The implementation of the Good Friday Agreement requires the full co-operation of all of the parties to it - governments and political parties alike. And what is required is that the Agreement is implemented, in the terms agreed.

"Under its terms the two governments have a joint and co-equal responsibility for its implementation. There is not and cannot be a senior and junior relationship between the two governments if we are to succeed. Joint and co-equal responsibility is required for the successful implementation of the Agreement.

"This places a particularly onerous responsibility on the Irish government to challenge a British system which has never been comfortable with many of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. And one of the challenges for the Irish government is to keep the British government focused on building the peace process. This means both governments supporting and underpinning the politics of peace making.

Commenting on the ongoing siege of Ramallah and President Arafat the Sinn Fein leader said:

"The daily violence in the Middle East is making the task of building a sustainable peace in that region all the more difficult. Ariel Sharon's time in power has been marked by repressive actions. The suicide attacks against Israeli civilians are reprehensible and we call for them to end but so too is the invasion by Israel of Palestinian territory, the attacks against Palestinians and their homes and the deliberate targeting of Palestinian leaders. This must stop and the International Community must intervene to achieve this. I welcome the emergency resolution from the UN Security Council calling for a meaningful bi-lateral ceasefire and for the Israelis to withdraw from Palestinian territories. Calm voices need to be heard at this time. If both nations are to avoid further suffering, there needs to be a swift return to the historic compromise between Peres and Arafat marked by the Oslo Agreement."

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