Republican News · Thursday 27 April 2000

[An Phoblacht]

There will be change - Adams

Several thousand people gathered at the Bogside in Derry to join Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams for the annual Easter commemoration.

As the marchers gathered, the sun beamed down on the crowd, but the summer heat was short lived. As the crowd moved off towards the city cemetery, rain and hail pelted them relentlessly.

At the Republican Plot, Adams told the drenched crowd that the answer to questions about resolving the current political deadlock lay at the feet of Tony Blair and the British government, and he questioned whether they had the courage to bring about the political changes which had been implemented but have since been frozen.

He told those who had gathered to reflect on what had happened since the 1916 Rising.

``I want to say first of all that I am very pleased to be here with you as we reflect on what happened on Easter 1916. Eighty-four years ago, a mighty thing happened; a huge thing.

``At a time when Britain had an empire, at a time when men were being fooled into being soldiers in Europe, a small group of people, republican democrats, struck out against that empire.

``We pay tribute also to the freedom fighters of this day, and especially to the Volunteers of the Derry Brigade of the IRA.''

Referring to the fact that there were 101 flags marking the graves of republican activists in the cemetery, Adams said there had to be ``an equivalence of grief'', highlighting that republicans were somehow erased from the official records.

Speaking on the current political situation, the Sinn Féin president said that Tony Blair had the key to unlock the future for everyone on this island.

``I know that many republicans were detached by what the Agreement was and what the Agreement was supposed to mean. Sinn Féin is about change; about transforming the situation and we will judge the Good Friday Agreement on whether it is capable of bringing about that change.

``There is one thing for certain. There is going to be change. There are those who for a long time marginalised us, repressed us and demeaned us. If they keep persisting they may delay the change but they will not prevent the change because the days of second class citizens are over, done and gone.''

On decommissioning, Adams said: ``I was told once you can't hear the voice of republicanism over the noise of the guns. Now the guns are silent.''

``I am for taking all the guns out of Irish politics, but let no-one be in any doubt, Sinn Féin is not going to be tied by demands from the British government.''

During his speech, Adams stressed the importance of the Proclamation drawn up by the rebel leaders of the Easter Rising, saying that they had struck out not just at political injustice, but also for economic and social equality for all.

He pointed to the ongoing tribunals in the South and said that this proved there was ``unfinished business'' from the Easter Rising.

Adams ended by urging the crowds to take a more proactive stance to achieve the aims of equality and justice which the rebels of 1916 had set out to claim for the nationalist population of Ireland.

``It isn't a day for long speeches. It is a day for reflecting on ourselves and for re-energising ourselves,'' he said.

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