[Sinn Fein]

26 September 1997

Building for the Future - Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams addressing a meeting of the Party's Six County Executive this morning said:

``After three wasted years Sinn Fein has with others, in just three weeks, significantly moved the political process forward.

``However, we all need to keep our feet firmly on the ground and our eyes fixed on the big prize of a lasting peace. No one doubts that there will be difficulties ahead but if the political will which we saw this week can be harnessed then there is no reason why we cannot achieve a democratic peace settlement.

``Of course, all of the participants bring their own baggage and their own agenda to the talks. Already, as part of the normal process of negotiations other parties are trying to undermine our goal of a United Ireland by claiming that it is unrealistic - this is nonsense.

``Sinn Fein enters the negotiations as an Irish republican party seeking to promote the broad nationalist objective of an end to British rule in Ireland. We believe that it will be the inevitable outcome for this process. It makes sense.

``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 negotiations so that we can achieve, through dialogue among the Irish people, an agreed Ireland.

``The political and historical evidence shows that political independence, a united Ireland, offers the best guarantee of equality and the most durable basis for peace and stability. An internal Six-County arrangement cannot work - the status quo must change. There has to be fundamental constitutional and political change.

``Achieving this will be difficult. But Sinn Fein will not be deflected. We must work with the other participants to bridge the gap of distrust between nationalists and unionists. We need to secure an accommodation, based on equality, which rejects the possibility of any individual, or any section of people from suffering the injustice of discrimination. No process which excludes any section of opinion can hope to be successful.

``Sinn Fein recognises that the concerns of the unionist population about their position in an Irish national democracy must be addressed and resolved in a concrete way. This process of national reconciliation must secure the political, religious and democratic rights of unionists. That is not only the democratic norm but a practical necessity if we are to advance the cause of peace in Ireland.

``Building peace is our collective responsibility. Sinn Fein is committed to our peace strategy and through it to a transformation of Irish society. We know that peace is not simply the absence of violence. Collectively we share the responsibility of putting conflict behind us and of building a solid foundation for a future for our children free from conflict and fear. I believe that the vast majority of people want us to succeed.''

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