13 June 1996
Adams - Sinn Fein prepared for the challenges to come
Sinn Fein President will tonight address a public meeting in Dublin. In the course of what will be a wide ranging speech Mr. Adams will touch on many of the issues which are currently occupying the public mind.
Mr. Adams said:
``The search for peace in Ireland these last few years has been circuitous and convoluted. We have all discovered by now that making peace is a difficult and problematic business. A risky business.
``Sinn Fein for our part has played a constructive and positive role, indeed a central role, in creating the opportunity which still exists to build a peace settlement and despite the obvious difficulties which exist it is our collective responsibility to persevere and to turn this into reality.
``The Sinn Fein leadership has pursued the restoration of the peace process vigorously and energetically. Our priority is to reconstruct the peace process;''
Turning to the issue of Sinn Fein's exclusion from the talks in Belfast Mr. Adams said:
``The two governments cannot be selective on this issue of inclusive dialogue and the democratic rights of the electorate. The international experience, as well as the history of political initiatives in the north over the last 25 years, all reject the possibility of political settlements based on the exclusion of parties.
``Exclusion is a failed policy. It can make no constructive contribution to the development of a real process of negotiation. It is illogical to believe that peace can be built on a policy which deliberately ignores the voice of a significant section of people.
``Sinn Fein and those who have voted for us want peace. We have demonstrated a real commitment to that goal. It makes no sense for that genuine desire for peace to be spurned and thrown back in our face.''
The Sinn Fein President responding to the differences within unionism which have taken on a very public dimension this week remarked:
``There is an expectation, shared by people throughout this island and beyond, that there must be change. The day of one party rule is finished; the day when unionists dominated and nationalists acquiesced are gone forever; the day of inequality and triumphalism are over. What is needed now is fundamental transformation of Irish society.
``Sinn Fein seeks change. We welcome change. We are not afraid of it. On the contrary we believe it is the life-blood of political struggle and the only basis for a lasting agreement. Our task therefore must be to make change happen and to make it irreversible.
``It is clear that there are those in unionism who don't want change; who are implacably opposed to any notion of accommodation or agreement, other than on their own rigid and narrowly defined terms. These are represented by the more extreme elements.
``There are of course others who know that the wind of change is gathering pace and who are seeking to minimise and dilute the extent of that change. That is what is being worked out at the moment to a large extent among the unionist leaderships.
``Sinn Fein believes that for too long the issue of partition, of sovereignty and the political situation in the six counties, have lain frozen in the deep freeze of British policy. The ice has not yet been broken but we have seen in recent days some evidence of a thaw setting in.
``The agreement reached between the two governments one week ago is a welcome step.
``Sinn Fein has long argued for an international dimension to any attempt to resolve this conflict. In this context we welcome the appointment of Senator Mitchel and his colleagues. However we must remain vigilant against any effort to erode or dilute either the agreement between the two governments or the terms of reference and authority of the Chairperson of the talks process''.
Speaking on the issue of sovereignty the Sinn Fein President said:
``Sinn Fein is an Irish Republican Party. Our objective is to end British rule in Ireland. We want to see a society on this island which reflects the diversity of our people.
``In our view the issue of sovereignty, the claim of the British government to sovereignty in Ireland, is the key matter which must be addressed in any negotiation.
``The British government has stated that it ``has no selfish, strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland. Our role is to help, enable and encourage''. If this be the case then the London government should join with the Dublin government to help, enable and encourage the transfer of sovereignty to the people of Ireland.''
Commenting on the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe Mr. Adams said:
``The integrity of this party has been brought into question by some, particularly in sections of the media, who have sought to link this killing to Sinn Fein and to our efforts to restore the peace process. As someone who for many years has been at the receiving end of abusive and at times personal condemnation, let me say that such an approach does no good at all.
``It is incumbent on all political leaders and on the media, in the midst of dangerous and risky times, to be measured in how we approach every single issue.
``I have made our position very clear on the tragic killing of Garda McCabe and the wounding of his colleague at Adare last week. This action was totally and absolutely wrong and this party has renounced and repudiated it.
``We have placed on record our condolences and our regret to the family.
``The IRA for its part, has denied any involvement and I accept that.
``Such killings can play no part in the republican struggle and those who are seeking to blame Sinn Fein know this. Their agenda is to undermine Sinn Fein's role in the search for a peace settlement.
Concluding Mr Adams said:
``What has gone before has failed all of us, north and south. It is time to reach out beyond our prejudices, to acknowledge the difficulties which we all face collectively and individually and try to move forward in a spirit of tolerance and reconciliation.
``The imperative of peace demands that we apply ourselves to this enormous task. It can only be built on justice and freedom.
``For my part I remain convinced that there will be a peace settlement. This will grow from a process of honest dialogue and real negotiations. Sinn Fein will be part of that collective effort.
``Our decisions and actions in the time ahead will determine whether we succeed or fail. Sinn Fein is prepared for the challenges to come. We are prepared for the risks and the difficult decisions which must be taken. No one ever said that this business of making peace would be easy.''
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