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Extracts from Speech by Gerry Adams at SF Annual Fundraising Dinner, (12 November 2008)

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Text: Gerry Adams ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Extracts from Speech by Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin, at SF Annual Fundraising Dinner, New York, (12 November 2008)


“Once, unionism dominated life in the north. That has all changed, largely as a result of the efforts of Sinn Fein, but also with the help of you in this room and many others across the United States.

Today, if political unionism wants to exercise power it can only do so if it is prepared to work in partnership with republicans and within the all Ireland political architecture of the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements.

Some elements of unionism continue to resist change. But for the leadership of unionism today the question is very simple. Is it ready to move forward with the rest of us?

Everything hinges on the answer to this simple question. Partnership, equality and working together is the only way forward for our people.

And when I say our people; I mean all our people, and that includes the unionists. It is my strong view that decent, pragmatic unionists will come to terms with the new dispensation. And why wouldn't they?

There was a time when:

  • Unionism controlled the parliament
  • Unionism controlled the cabinet
  • Unionism controlled the police force
  • Unionism controlled the justice system
  • Unionism dominated business and controlled local government
  • Unionism dictated housing policy and allocation

But that time has passed. Everyone knows this.

Some may wish it was not the case and certainly their tactics are about delaying and attempting to dilute necessary change. But this can only work in the short term. Irish Republicans are long termers!

By working closely with the unionists; by being patient and strategic; by recognising unionist concerns and fears on the one hand, and challenging bigotry and prejudice on the other; it is possible to make progress.

The key to this is confidence in our own ability, in our analysis and in our republican politics.

There are many challenges and many frustrations as well. Few human beings of my acquaintance are as petty and mean spirited and negative as those in the Afrikaner wing of unionism.

But if we are truly about nation building; and that is what Sinn Féin is about, then we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted or diverted by negative and reactionary elements.

We have to reach over their heads to working families; to the disadvantaged and to all those who want a better way for themselves and for their children.

So, we have a lot of work ahead of us. This includes bedding down the political institutions; making progress on outstanding issues; fulfilling the promise of the Good Friday Agreement. It's about making politics work.

It's about delivering for citizens on all the issues affecting them in their daily lives.”



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