New route to a United Ireland

By SInn Féin President Gerry Adams

By any measurement the republican struggle is stronger now than at any time since partition. The Sinn Féin peace strategy, supported by the vast majority of Irish republicans, has delivered enormous change.

There are tens of thousands of Irish republicans on the island of Ireland and beyond and thousands of them are involved in activism. The confidence of nationalists living in the north has never been higher.

In the south many citizens are looking for an alternative to the conservative policies of the establishment parties.

In the midst of great wealth more and more people see the need for equality. There is great potential to build a really radical political movement.

But the most significant success of the Sinn Féin peace strategy is the Irish peace process which has created for the first time ever in our long and troubled history, a peaceful and democratic option for achieving the free and united Ireland that is the core political objective of all Irish republicans.

The cornerstone of a truly national republic will be the recognition, protection and respect for individual rights on an equal basis for all. Like the United Irelanders 200 years ago “Equality is our watchword”.

As a result of all of this the IRA took the historic and courageous decision in July 2005 to end its armed campaign.

The IRA decision presented an unparalleled challenge and opportunity for every nationalist and republican. One which we in Sinn Féin have proactively sought to build on.

The goal of a united Ireland remains absolute but the means by which it can be achieved no longer needs to involve armed actions.

The conditions which in the past led to republican armed actions have fundamentally changed.

Armed struggle was never a republican principle. It was and always has been an option of last resort in the absence of any other alternative.

But, there is now an alternative.

There is a peaceful way to achieve political change, equality, justice and ultimately Irish freedom.

Given our collective history, the current debate on policing is undoubtedly a difficult one for all Irish republicans.

We have all suffered as a result of political policing, some more directly and painfully than others.

We cannot and should not forget the abuses of the past. We need to expose these abuses and those responsible for them. But we also have a responsibility to create a different and better future.

We need to hold both police services to account. They need to uphold the rights of citizens in a non-partisan and professional way. That is the core of Sinn Féin’s approach to policing.

I have called for the debate on the way forward within the broad republican community to be widespread and inclusive over the coming weeks.

A small number of republicans continue to engage in armed actions. None of the groups involved have any strategy to deliver Irish unity and independence.

They have no popular support. Their actions are counter-productive. Their actions put the lives of innocent people and their own members in grave danger.

The only product of their campaign is incidents like the tragedy of Omagh - where republican and unionist lives were taken - and the destroyed lives of an increasing number of young people facing long prison sentences.

I appeal to those groups engaged in armed actions to end them.

I do not want to see any other people killed or imprisoned as a result of their activities.

I welcome the decision of republicans who oppose Sinn Féin, to stand in the assembly elections.

Elections are the proper arena for testing different political views and analysis and I look forward to defending and promoting and winning popular reendorsement of the Sinn Féin peace strategy.

The Sinn Féin leadership is willing to meet with and discuss all of

these matters with other republican groups, including how we

can secure the release of political prisoners.

Sinn Féin is intent on journeying on from here, to be part of building a republic worthy of those who made the supreme sacrifice.

Our focus is clear. Sinn Féin is determined to achieve an end to British rule in our country.

I want to meet with these organisations to brief them in detail on current developments and impress upon them my belief that the current Sinn Féin strategy is the best way forward for our community and for the wider republican struggle.

I am willing to work with the families of prisoners belonging to or supportive of these groups and I have already raised with both governments a number of issues, including the conditions in Maghaberry Prison and the transfer of prisoners held in England back to Ireland.

Urgent Appeal

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© 2007 Irish Republican News