27 April 1996
Making Real the Promises of 1916 - Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking in Dublin today at a March and rally to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Easter Rising told his audience that in the May elections Sinn Fein ``will provide a focus for the widespread demand for real negotiations, for a release of all political prisoners and we will present the British government with a strong republican voice and to give strong republican leadership at this vital time ..... On May 30th, Sinn Fein's peace agenda will be the alternative to the unionist agenda of domination and partition. On June 10th we will demand our place at the negotiating table. We intend asserting the rights of our electorate and we will defy the British government's arrogant assumption that it can dictate to the Irish people who they should or should not elect.''
Mr. Adams spoke of the vision of those who participated in that historic event.
``Their vision was of an Ireland which put religious intolerance behind it, guaranteeing religious and political freedom and equality; an Ireland dedicated to pursuing the health, happiness and prosperity of all its people; an Ireland which cherishes all the children of the nation equally without favour .....
``Has the southern state fulfilled the vision of 1916? Look around. The answer lies in the massive unemployment; the poverty in rural and urban areas; the families forced off the land; a health service unable to care for all of the people. Look at the inequality; the discrimination against women; against our young people; against the poor and the homeless. Look at the intolerance towards minority groups whether travellers or separated families. Look at the mass emigration which is the safety valve for a state which cannot house or employ the children of the nation.
``It is unpardonable and a sad commentary on the state of southern politics that the Irish government has chosen not to commemorate this 80th anniversary - to remember with pride the indomitable spirit and tenacity of those men and women of 1916.''
Commenting on the May 30th election and the Stormont Forum Mr. Adams spelt out to the unionist leadership ``a clear and unequivocal message ...... Unionists may have succeeded in securing from a willing British government their partitionist election and their Stormont Assembly. But Sinn Fein is not going to go away you know and we will be fighting these elections to give Irish nationalists and republicans the opportunity to assert our position also; to reject their Stormont Assembly; to reject partition and to demand the political and constitutional changes necessary for a just and lasting peace.
``We will provide a focus for the widespread demand for real negotiations, for a release of all political prisoners and we will present the British government with a strong republican voice and to give strong Republican leadership at this vital time.
``We are not second class citizens - we are first class citizens and we will accept nothing less.
``On May 30th, Sinn Fein's peace agenda will be the alternative to the unionists agenda of domination and partition. On June 10th we will demand our place at the negotiating table. We intend asserting the rights of our electorate and we will defy the British government's arrogant assumption that it can dictate to the Irish people who they should or should not elect.''
The Sinn Fein President described the republican struggle ``as strong and vibrant and relevant as ever. Indeed the past three years, like the entire last 25 years is proof of that.''
Mr. Adams rounded on the British government's squandering of the opportunity for peace created by the Irish peace process: ``Whatever disappointments we may all share for the opportunity which John Major has squandered be assured that there exists in Ireland and internationally a vast reservoir of goodwill and solidarity which wishes us well in our endeavours.
``We have to tap into that reservoir and use it effectively to counter the London government's efforts to cobble together yet another of their undemocratic arrangements. At times sensible people and democrats could be driven to distraction by the attitude of British policy makers towards Ireland. But we should take succour from the fact that while some of them may have stalled the historical process towards Irish independence, none of them have succeeded in halting it. From Lloyd George through Harold Wilson, from Ted Heath to Jim Callaghan to John Major, all have failed to fulfil their responsibility towards the people of Ireland. But we have survived it all. Where now is Maggie Thatcher?
``For our part, we have demonstrated a real capacity for flexibility and generosity. We have engaged in good faith in the efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement; we have honoured our commitments and shown ourselves willing to take risks for peace.
``In all of this we must keep our eye firmly fixed on the big prize and through an effective use of our peace strategy move the situation forward to a new beginning in which partition is ended and Ireland and the Irish people are united in the noble quest for a better future for all of us.''
The Sinn Fein leader posed the question `Can the peace process be restored under this British government?' He said: No one except the British Prime Minister can answer this question. All political leaders have a duty to try to rescue the situation. That will require honesty, determination, good faith and urgent engagement by all sides.
The peace process must be rebuilt in a way that ensures that it will not again founder on the rocks of intransigence, negativity and bad faith.
``The British government must give public and unequivocal assurances that a real and inclusive process of negotiations will begin without further delay and without further preconditions. This process must be open and comprehensive, time-limited and that there can be no attempt to predetermine or preclude any outcome of the negotiations.
``There cannot be peace in Ireland unless the British government is committed to that objective. We are Irish republicans. We want to see the end to British rule in our country. With Pearse we believe that ``Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.'' But we are prepared to meet the British government half way. Peace demands justice. It demands equality of treatment and democratic rights for all citizens NOW. And these citizens include the residents of the Garvaghy Road and the Lower Ormeau, they include Paddy Kelly and the other political prisoners.
``Without the British government, or the Irish government there can be no substantive negotiations and no agreement.
``Without unionist involvement there can be no substantive negotiations and no agreement.
``If Sinn Fein is excluded there can be no substantive negotiations, no progress and no agreement which can last. There can be no partial solutions - partition has convinced us all of that - and there can be no partial negotiations about the future of the people of this island. The situation has now moved on beyond such arrangements.''
The Sinn Fein President concluded:
``Those who came here to this place 80 years ago had a dream. It was a realisable and achievable dream. It is our dream also. Time has not diminished its relevance or diminished the strength of its message.
``Our dream is of a new Ireland in which all sections of our people can put the past behind us look only to the future in a spirit of equality and reconciliation. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy and justice and equality contained in the 1916 Proclamation.'' ENDS
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