[Sinn Fein]

15 March 1997

Gerry Adams St. Patrick's Day Message

In a St. Patrick's Day message Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has recommitted Sinn Fein to ``the relentless pursuit, with all our energy, our determination and our dedication, of the achievement of peace in Ireland.

Mr. Adams said:

``I extend fraternal greetings to Irish people at home and abroad at this critical point in our history. The celebration of our national feast day must be an inclusive one which reflects the diversity of all the people on our island.

``A permanent peace settlement must be the goal for the Irish people, for the Irish and British governments and for all of those who are concerned about the future of this island. All other matters should be subordinate to the winning of peace.

``To make peace a reality is the challenge facing all of us. It will not be achieved by closing doors to dialogue, or returning to the bad old days of vilification and abuse and to the tired, failed agenda of exclusion.

``We need a new agenda of peace, an urgent agenda which seeks to recommit everyone to the objective of a negotiated democratic settlement. How do we achieve this? Only through dialogue. By agreement. By addressing the need for fundamental constitutional and political change. By seeking to overcome the fears and suspicions and misconceptions which abound. By making change our friend and reaching out to our opponents.

``Sinn Fein believes that the people of Ireland have the right to freedom, justice and democracy. We believe that the people of Ireland have the right to freely decide for ourselves the future of this island.

``I appeal to the unionist leaderships to join with us in the search for a lasting peace.

``I urge John Major, even now, to seek to close the gap of distrust which exists between Irish republicans and the British government.

``Let us set ourselves the task of working to heal the divisions which exist. Working together, as equals and as partners, I believe we can achieve a new dispensation on this island.

``I would like to thank and commend all of those throughout Ireland and Britain, in the United States and elsewhere, who have worked hard for peace in Ireland.

``On this St. Patrick's Day we must all rededicate ourselves to persevering in the cause of peace.

``Lá Feile Padraig faoi mhaise daoibhse uilig.'' Críoch

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