Irish Republican News · October 24, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Adams sets out vision for Ireland
Adams sets out vision for Ireland
As part of the Sinn Fein Cead Blain celebrations, Gerry Adams has published a new book setting out his vision for the future direction of Irish Republicanism in the years ahead. The book entitled ‘The New Ireland - A vision for the future’ was launched in Conway Mill.

The following are some of Mr Adams’s remaraks at the launch.

 

This short book is written in an attempt to sketch out a sense of modern Irish republicanism now and for the future.

Recently Sinn Fein published a book ‘Sinn Fein - A Century of Struggle’ which looked at the establishment of the party in 1905 and its history and development since then.

‘The New Ireland - A Vision for the Future’ also marks our 100th birthday. It is not a party political manifesto more a personal statement about the nature of modern Irish republicanism and its vision for the future.

This book restates our primary political republican objectives - a united, independent Ireland; an end to partition; an end to the union with Britain; the construction of a new national democracy on the island of Ireland, and reconciliation between orange and green.

The most important principle of Sinn Fein was and is self-reliance. Only the people of this island can secure our liberation and mould our society to suit our unique heritage, our character, our economic needs and our place in the wider world. That was the core value of the fledgling Sinn Fein. That is still true today. And from the beginning, while always asserting that the end of the union was in the interests of all the people of this island, Sinn Fein extended a hand of friendship to unionists.

The core values of Sinn Fein are reflected in the Proclamation of the Irish republic in 1916, the founding document of modern Irish republicanism and a charter of liberty with international as well as national importance. In it, the republic guarantees religious and civil liberty; equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens; the Proclamation contains a commitment to cherish all the children of the nation equally. Its anti-sectarianism is evident in the words “oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past”. And at a time when women in most countries did not have the vote, the government of this new republic was to be elected by the suffrages of all her men and women.

These are not just clever words or empty rhetoric. These are great words, great ideas, which it is our task - our responsibility - to see implemented. These words are a promise to every Irish citizen that she and he can share in the dignity of human kind, as equals with equal opportunity. That we can enjoy freedom, educate our children, provide for our families and not exploit our neighbours.

Those who established Sinn Fein 100 years ago, those who fought in 1916 and later against the might of the British Empire, and those who raised the flag of resistance in each subsequent generation did so in circumstances that differed and changed as the years rolled past. This is not 1905. It is 2005. It is the twenty-first century.

If Irish republicanism is to be relevant in modern Ireland, it needs to be defined and redefined. Republicanism today, and our dream, our vision of the future, draws on our historic roots and the rights of the Irish people. It also reflects our contemporary experience and the inspiration provided by the heroes of this phase of struggle - people like Maire Drumm and Bobby Sands, Eddie Fullerton and Sheena Campbell, John Davey and many others.

Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. Our strategy to achieve a united, independent Ireland marks us out from other Irish political parties.

Our primary political objectives are an end to partition, an end to the union, the construction of a new national democracy, a new republic on the island of Ireland and reconciliation between Orange and Green. But we are not prepared to wait until we have achieved these goals for people to have their rights to a decent home, to a job and a decent wage, to decent public services like health and education, and a safer, cleaner environment. The big task facing us while we struggle for these other objectives is to play a full part in bringing the peace process to completion. That has to be the priority of all responsible political parties. That is a difficult and challenging task. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was the biggest step forward in this process.

Beyond the Agreement, which is essentially an accommodation, Irish republicanism has a vision of a new society, a new Ireland, that is democratic. That is economic as well as political: a society which is inclusive of all citizens, in which there is a redistribution of wealth for the well-being of the aged, for the advancement of youth, for the liberation of women and the protection of our children. It foresees a new relationship between these islands, resting upon our mutual independence and mutual respect. From the beginning, saving the Irish language from extinction and reviving our national language has been a key aim of Sinn Fein. Padraig Pearse recognised that without Conradh na Gaeilge there would have not have been a revolution in Ireland.

Our republicanism has to be about change - fundamental, deep-rooted change. It has to be about creating the conditions whereby people are empowered to make that change. Equality is our watchword. We live in a prosperous country. There is sufficient wealth in our society to ensure that no one should want for any of the basics of life. We have a two-tier health system and a housing crisis. Our children are being educated in dilapidated and run-down school buildings. There is no sign of decent childcare services. At every turn, punitive measures are taken against the disadvantaged. We are prepared to work with others who share our vision of a fair and equitable society that provides real solutions, not broken promises.

Key to achieving this is the hard, tedious, difficult work of building political strength. By building that strength, we will build the capacity to move both the British and the Irish governments and the unionists and to influence the political agenda.

Sinn Fein is now politically and organisationally stronger than at any time since the 1920s. We have developed new approaches. We have taken difficult and risky decisions. We have demonstrated time and time again a preparedness to go on the political offensive, to take initiatives and go toe to toe with our political opponents in the battle of ideas, as well as in the hard job of building workable political partnerships. All of these facts give some explanation of why we are almost perpetually at the centre of a political storm. Our political opponents, and even those who should be our allies in the struggle for Irish freedom and peace, fear our growing electoral strength. It is amazing to watch the feverish efforts of other parties rushing to claim their republican and Sinn Fein roots while attacking and condemning us.

At Fianna Fail’s weekend Ard Fheis the Taouieach announced that commemorations would take place again this Easter in O’Connell Street - they should never have been stopped. And that a special committee is to be set up to ensure that 1916 is properly commemorated. We welcome all of this.

We welcome the fact that Labour and Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and the rest want to be republican. The more the merrier. We have no monopoly on republicanism. What is a republican if not someone who strives for Irish freedom and justice and an end to partition?

The success of our party - and the test for all other parties - has to be about how much change they secure and how much progress they make in improving the life of citizens and in achieving national freedom. We also have a lot of work to do. We don’t pretend to have all the answers.

This book seeks to map out the way ahead for Irish republicans in achieving all of this.

It argues that republicans must use our growing political strength and mandate to build an island-wide, a nationwide, mass Sinn Fein movement. Our goal is to have a Sinn Fein cumann in every electoral ward across this island. Our objective is to bring change right across society on this island and to entrench equality.

What Sinn Fein is trying to do at this time is unprecedented. While dealing with the ongoing challenges of the peace process, we are continuing to build for Irish unity and independence, at the same time preparing to be in government in the future. But we want social and economic change in the here and now. We want equality now. So, we are also building a political party right across all thirty-two counties. We are building a campaigning party and building political strength and alliances with others to bring about the changes now, by trying to set the political agenda so that those in government have to respond, even if they are not happy to do so.

The book examines all of this and looks at the role of Irish republicanism and the nation; our relationship with unionism, the European Union and International matters; women; the Irish language; rural Ireland; and more.

With the developing peace process, growing concern over globalisation and crisis in Europe, we are at a strategic crossroads in Ireland. We need to decide on the type of country we want and what we want its place in the world to be.

© 2005 Irish Republican News