[Sinn Fein]

17 October 1998

Youth must take ownership of the process

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin this morning addressed the first Sinn Fein Youth Congress which is taking place in Dublin today. Over 200 delegates and international guests from the Basque Country, Catalonia, Germany, England, Denmark and Wales heard Mr. McLaughlin say:

``The role of Sinn Fein Youth in the recent past and its involvement in the peace process can not be under estimated. The role of young Republicans in the time ahead will become even more crucial. The overall Republican project is entering its final stages, and it will be the leadership of young people that will bring about the fundamental political, social, and ecomomic change which Republicans have been struggling for for many generations.

``Young people taking ownership of the entire processs will ensure that the current attempts to stall, and indeed rewrite the agreement will ultimately fail. It was young people who voted in massive numbers to endorse the agreement, and it is their voices which must now be heard to ensure that it is implemented in full.

``The peace process has been a most challenging and difficult area of struggle for republicans but what is guiding us is our vision of the new Ireland that we want to create and our belief that we will ultimately prevail.

``Conflict resolution requires change and we believe that change has now come within our grasp. Sinn Fein are providing the leadership to see this change come about be it in the area of equality, policing, Irish language and Irish unity.

Mr. McLaughlin told the delegates:

``Do not become disheartened at the current stalling by Unionists. Time after time they have raised issues such as decommissioning, they raise these not as genuine concerns but to prevent any movement towards change. At we approach the October 31st deadline what is required is the immediate establishment of the institutions as outlined in the Agreement - the executive and all Ireland bodies.''ENDS

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