Adams defies critics
Adams defies critics

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has denounced critics who have questioned his continued leadership of the party and its new political direction.

Mr Adams has also been criticised in the media for engaging in a series of international conferences on Irish reunification without clear arguments as to how reunification can be brought about.

A significant number of councillors have resigned this year, including three in the past two weeks, citing a variety of reasons.

Republican activists have also criticised the diversion of the party’s resources from grassroots electoral work to glossy media campaigns and careerist party officials.

Writing this week, Mr Adams said that his party’s campaign to progress Irish reunification had “struck a few nerves” and that “the old guard of revisionism has re-emerged”.

“They could always be relied upon to overstate their case. So too with their predictions that Sinn Fein is in decline. Or that the party is heading into a split. Wishful thinking!

Mr Adams said his party “certainly faces challenges, but that is what struggle is about and the party is debating the issues involved in an open and thorough way”.

He said a debate is taking place within the party over the summer, without divulging the content of the debate.

Mr Adams said he was “absolutely confident” that this debate would conclude and that Sinn Fein would face into “what will be a winter of discontent in the wider political systems on this island, in a united and intelligent way.

He said the resignations of a small number of Sinn Fein councillors had been “seized upon” by detractors “in a futile attempt to promote their flawed analysis. Sure these resignations are disappointing. But that’s politics.

“Those involved have their own reasons for resigning, mainly sited in local issues. That is their choice -- the wrong choice in my view but that’s the way it goes and it’s hardly the end of Sinn Fein.

“This activist has no intention of resigning. There is much to be done.

“As citizens face greater economic punishment at the hands of an incompetent Dublin government and as rejectionists in the north gear up for more negativity our duty is face the future with confidence and to stand up for decent politics, fairness and equality. And a reunited Ireland.

“That is what leadership is about. The time for republican politics is now.”


Meanwhile, the power-sharing Executive in the North has agreed a draft bill enabling the creation of a Department of Justice which will go before the Assembly this autumn.

The legislation is a key part of the long-delayed process to transfer policing and justice powers from London to Belfast.

Despite the apparent progress, there are still considerable doubts that unionists are “for real” on the issue.

Sinn Fein say if it is not done by Christmas then there will be real problems, particularly with a Westminster election looming.

Although expected passed by the Assembly, it will still require a further resolution asking the British government to devolve the necessary responsibilities.

The DUP is insisting that it will not approve any such move until there is sufficient confidence in the unionist community for the move and there are funding guarantees from the British exchequer.

But Sinn Fein has agreed to bypass the d’Hondt power-sharing formula to ensure a candidate agreeable to a majority of people is selected, as demanded by the DUP.

The new bill says the person nominated as Minister for Justice must have cross-community support, a requirement which some have argued effectively ensures the position will not be held by a nationalist.

The nationalist SDLP, which would have been first in line for the post under the d’Hondt rule, has denounced the plan.

SDLP minister Margaret Ritchie said: “What I am surprised at is the position of (Deputy First Minister) Martin McGuinness because he has acquiesced to the position of the DUP by allowing that no nationalist will be eligible for this position and no nationalist in Northern Ireland will be the Justice Minister for this country.”

But Sinn Fein Junior Minister Gerry Kelly said the move is “temporary” and a necessary compromise to ensure policing comes under the control of local politicians.

He said: “What we want is an agreed minister in the interim to move that forward.

“That is what all this is about.

“Martin McGuinness is on record that we want a nationalist Justice Minister.”

When challenged on the SDLP claims he said: “Do we want policing and justice transferred here or do we want the SDLP to sit whinging in the sidelines for the next five, 10, or 15 years?”

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