[Sinn Fein]

29th March 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2003

Address by Joe Cahill, speaking in support of Ard Chomhairle Motion 36

The next two months will be a crucial period for republicans.

In May Assembly elections will take place and next month marks the 87th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising. It

Easter is an important time for Irish republicans.

It is a time for remembering our friends and comrades who have given their lives, and freedom in pursuit of Irish Freedom.

It is a time for reflecting upon these ideals. It also provides an opportunity for renewal. When we as Irish Republicans rededicate ourselves to the legitimate and achievable goals of independence and unity for the people of this island.

The past year has predictably been one of ups and downs. The ongoing difficulties in the peace process caused by the continual pandering by the British government to the whims of unionism have resulted in the suspension of the political institutions and the commencement of another set of political negotiations.

However, the high point of the year was marked by the election results here in the 26 Counties. Sinn Fein arrived as a significant force in the political life of this state. Irish Unity is now at the centre of political life here. Parties and individuals who shunned the notion of Irish Unity are now talking about it as a matter of policy.

This work must now be built upon. In eight weeks we a facing into fresh Assembly elections. This will be a unique election. It provides this generation of republicans. The people in this hall the opportunity to radically change the political direction and the political make up of the six county state. I don't need to tell people here how crucial the next eight weeks will be. I also don't think that it is too much to ask, when you consider where we have come from and what we have come through, for a sustained effort in this short time ahead.

For possibly the first time we as republicans have the future direction of politics across the island in our hands. We cannot let that opportunity slip through our hands through lack of work, effort or discipline.

But this election will not be easy as I have heard some people say. You only have to look at the British attempts to damage our project through the registration to see that. Also our political enemies will not simply roll over. we have to go out and make this happen. We have to knock every door. We have to walk every street. For if we do not we are failing in our duty as republicans.

So if there is a message coming from this Ard Fheis it has to be for you to go back into your areas and for the next eight weeks ensure that no stone is left unturned and that come election day the Sinn Fein vote is larger than ever before and the opportunity presented by our negotiation team is seized. Anything less would be unforgivable.

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