[Sinn Fein]

7 December 1997

The following is the text of a speech delivered by Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator, Martin McGuinness MP at a demilitarisation protest in Glassdrummond, South Armagh on Sunday December 7th. 1997

This is a very important occasion in the South Armagh area, an area which for the last thirty years has been at the forefront of the struggle for freedom, justice and peace. I can say without contradiction that the peace process, the peace talks which we are presently involved in would not be happening if myself, Gerry Adams, John Hume, Seamus Mallon and other Nationalist leaders did not enjoy the support of the people of South Armagh and other areas of the Six-Counties.

It is to your eternal credit, because it was Nationalist Ireland which brought about the peace process, it was nationalist Ireland which challenged the British government, which challenged the Unionists and challenged all which was wrong within this Statelet since it was founded in the early 1920's. The leadership didn't come from a British government, it didn't come from the unionists, it came from Nationalist Ireland supported by an Irish government.

And what was that peace process designed to do? It was designed to challenge British government Ministers in a very serious way. Because since the formation of the Northern Statelet, the British governments approach to the North of Ireland has been a securocratic approach. Policies not designed by politicians - yes, policies endorsed by politicians - but designed by militarists within the British establishment, militarists who have ruled this Statelet since its foundation. That is what this peace process was designed to do. In South Africa and the Middle East and in other conflict situations throughout the world people have had to go through the same kind of process. The securocrats eventually had to be challenged by politicians who were then themselves challenged to provide a political solution which would resolve all of the issues at the heart of the conflict.

And that is exactly what we are trying to do. We are attempting to get Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam to face up to the reality that if this peace process is to work, then it is their responsibility as the leaders of the British government to become involved in challenging the securocrats who have run this Statelet since the Partition of Ireland, that is their task. That is what this peace process is designed to do. Whether or not Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam have the capacity to face up to that challenge remains to be seen. The coming weeks and months will tell us how serious they really are about finding a democratic resolution to this conflict.

It was the securocrats who beat Sammy Devenney in his own home and then covered up his death. It was securocrats who shot Seamus Cusack and Dessie Beatty on the Streets of Derry and who protected the identities of their British Army killers. It was securocrats who introduced internment. It was securocrats who ordered the massacre of anti-internment marchers in Derry on Bloody Sunday. It was securocrats who devised the `shoot to kill' policy. It was the securocrats who armed and trained the Loyalist Death Squads. It was the securocrats who helped plan the Dublin - Monaghan bombings. It was securocrats who took the decision to allow Orange triumphalist marchers to go down the Garvaghy Road for the last three years.

And it is the securocrats assisted by a small number of willing journalists who are attempting to derail the peace process.

It is the same securocrats who are responsible for these monstrosities (spy posts) throughout South Armagh. From what I can see, the only armed group which is in a cease-fire mode is the Irish Republican Army. Everyone else seems to be able to do what they want. For them the Mitchell Principles mean absolutely nothing.

The British Army are continuing to erect massive military fortifications throughout the North, the RUC harassment of our young people goes on unabated and on Friday night the Loyalist Death Squads murdered another member of the GAA. This just two days after the irresponsible and untrue allegations by the Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party that GAA members prevented Protestants from going to their place of worship in County Tyrone. This Statelet stinks to the high heavens. It cries out for Justice and Justice must come.

I am going to meet Tony Blair in 10 Downing Street next Thursday. I intend to talk to Tony Blair about Bloody Sunday, and about the spy posts in South Armagh and the building of bases, the harassment by the RUC. And I will talk about the British Government of Ireland Act and the undemocratic British claim to part of our country. I will tell Tony Blair that Articles 2&3 of the Irish Constitution did not create the conflict in Ireland and changing them won't solve it. It was the discrimination, the injustice and the domination practised by successive British and Unionist governments which created this conflict. Therefore the British government has to face up to in a very realistic way the logic of some of their own positions of recent years. That the object of this exercise is to end disunity and division on this island, is to unite the people of Ireland and to eventually unite the island of Ireland. That's where we must be going within these talks.

In the meantime I believe the action you have taken today will spread all over the North. I think that you have lit a flame today and I expect to see more and more peaceful protests of this nature. And I am absolutely convinced that the culmination of these protests will be to embarrass the British government into removing its paraphernalia of war which it has maintained throughout this statelet since its foundation.

Before I finish, I would like to congratulate the organisers of this protest and the people of South Armagh. You have really shown how the people can take possession of the Peace Process. This is how you do it. You come on the streets, you protest, remain peaceful and eventually you will win.

Go raibth maith agaibh go leor!

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