Irish Republican News · October 20, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Adams makes high-profile visit to South Africa
Adams makes high-profile visit to South Africa

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has spoken to a specially convened session of the South African Parliament in Capetown as part of an official visit to South Africa.

Speaking in advance of the event, which he described as an “exceptional honour”, Mr Adams said President Thabo Mbeki had continued the role of Nelson Mandela in providing leadership to Sinn Féin during the peace process.

Mr Adams told parliamentarians that their success in South Africa was “a beacon of light and encouragement for all those struggling throughout the world for freedom and democracy.”

One of the challenges facing Irish nationalists as they seek to achieve Irish unity, was engaging with our unionist neighbours.

“The reality and legacy of the partition of Ireland meant that a section of our people - the unionists - were given a special status,” he said.

“The peace process has created a new dynamic for change which many unionists find threatening. They are afraid that they will lose out economically and politically; that the traditional roles will be reversed and that they will suffer disadvantage and discrimination.

“Irish republicans will not condone or be part of such developments. The underpinning principle, which guides our politics, is equality. This means working in partnership with those unionists who will work with us to ensure a better future for all our people.

“Peace and political stability brings many benefits. That is evident here in South Africa. It can happen in Ireland.”

Mr Adams said Sinn Féin was planning to engage with unionists in the time ahead to seek a “vision of the future in which all of us can feel comfortable and be prosperous”.

“I believe we can achieve this. I believe the example set by South Africa marks the path which we too must follow.

“The father of Irish republicanism described this in our context as the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. I am confident in the time ahead that with perseverance, patience and persistence this can be achieved.”

Mr Adams is visiting South Africa at the invitation of foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The Sinn Féin flew into Johannesburg on Tuesday before laying a wreath to those who have died in the cause of freedom at one of South Africa’s most revered national monuments, the Freedom Park.

Yesterday, Mr Adams has also held discussions with South African President Mbeki and the African National Congress executive committee before making a keynote address at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

The Irish ambassador Gerry Corr also hosted a lunch and reception for the Sinn Féin president, while a state dinner for Mr Adams was attended by leading members of South Africa’s government.

© 2005 Irish Republican News