Putting it up to Trimble
As is traditional, the 94th Sinn Féin Ard Fheis was opened by ther party's national chairperson, Assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin.
He direceted his comments to ``those unionists who also wish the Peace Process to succeed''.
``David Trimble has spoken recently of being prepared to try again, but he has indicated that he needs certainty. Well, David, a number of certainties must by now be obvious to you.
``The first certainty is that your approach to the issue of IRA disarmament has been a consistent failure over the past couple of years. It is certain to be so in the future if you persist in that futile strategy. You must surely by now recognise that for yourself.
``There is a second certainty, David: the changes in our society have continued anyway despite the stalling and the procrastination. This will continue to happen whether or not the Executive is reestablished, or whether or not the Assembly itself exists. Indeed, political change will continue and will lead inexorably to constitutional change also.
``It would be best for all of our people if the mandated parties accepted responsibility for the management of that process of change. That is what our people voted for. Peaceful transition, equality and mutual respect for all sections of our community.
``It is time David, to end the `War of Words' between us. It is time to commence the `Battle of Ideas' within the agreed political structures and all-Ireland bodies.
``Despite our common frustration and anger at continued political failure, the reality is, that if you, David Trimble, turn up on Monday morning, prepared to make the agreed political institutions work, then we will have the Executive back in charge and a fully functional Assembly by the afternoon. The pro-Agreement parties are ready and willing. Remember that Peter Mandelson claimed that these political institutions could be reinstated just as quickly as they were torn down.
``Any objective observer would recognise that the short-lived Executive had provided conclusive proof that unionists, nationalists and republicans could work together. All of these parties have proven their ability to work within agreed political structures - we simply should have been given (and given ourselves) the necessary time to deal with those very serious issues that had not yet been satisfactorily resolved.
``We should all now resolve to build on the silence of the guns by returning to those structures and to demonstrate that politics can work, and that this is the alternative to politically motivated violence. And we should do so in the absence of arbitrarily imposed deadlines, threats to walk away, or letters of resignation (whether post-dated or not!).
``If David Trimble gives leadership to progressive unionism, they will respond by demonstrating increased support for him. republicans and nationalists will also respond with good faith and a renewed confidence that conflict resolution and peaceful political development will flow naturally from the clear demonstration that politics works.
``It really is over to you, David.''