Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has marked the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement with a rebuke of continuing efforts by right-wing politicians in Dublin to exclude his party from office.
Mr Adams said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had failed to learn the lesson of the historic peace deal of April 10, 1998, the need to recognise the rights of others.
The former SF leader spoke out as negotiating teams from the parties of Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar are currently reported to be working on a document outlining the broad priorities of a potential coalition government involving the two.
Once the document is drawn up, they have said they will share the paper with the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats and independents -- but not Sinn Fein. Both FF and FG have ‘ruled out’ Sinn Fein as a government partner.
The document is understood to contain a proposal for a single-tier healthcare system, a state childcare scheme and greater state involvement in the housing sector, all geared to appeal to other parties of the left.
Any deal with a smaller party would also have to be passed by the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail party memberships. Mr Martin has hopefully said the document will not be presented as a “fait accompli”.
Today Mr Adams recalled the lengthy talks and negotiations which led into the Good Friday Agreement. He said that the unionist parties at the time “went through all of that process without recognising the rights of the Sinn Féin voters, without talking to the Sinn Féin representatives” -- but he noted that things had “changed massively” since then.
He compared that with current events, as the two right-wing parties in the 26 Counties continue negotiations to seek to retain power.
“Here we are all these years, decades later, and the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are doing exactly the same thing. Refusing to recognise the rights of the Sinn Fein electorate,” he said.
“Refusing to engage with Sinn Féin leadership in the formation for government talks. So, so much for the lessons of history.”
Mr Adams also said that the Good Friday Agreement had “served all of us well”, but added: “There are aspects of it, important dimensions of it, that both governments have failed to honour, but most especially the British government.”
He said his party “want to bring the Agreement to its complete fruition” but “for now it’s worth looking forward as well as looking backwards.
“So thanks to everyone who played any role in putting together the Good Friday Agreement, from this island, from our neighbouring island, from across the world and from the USA in particular. And to all of those people who have kept the peace process alive since then. Let’s keep on the road we are on.
“Let’s keep building peace and let’s make sure that all of the elements of the Good Friday Agreement are honoured in the time ahead and not undermined as Brexit threatens to do; not subvert it as Brexit threatens to do. Go n-éirí an t-ádh libhse. Go raibh maith agaibh. Happy Easter.”