6 October 2005 Edition

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Sinn Féin MP addresses Tory conference

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy became the first Irish republican to address an event at the British Conservative Party Conference this week.

"Irish republicans have a legitimate political demand for the re-unification of Ireland and the establishment of a national democracy on the island. It is entirely legitimate to demand an end to partition. To demand an end to sectarianism and to demand an end to discrimination," Murphy told the assembled Tories.

Speaking in Blackpool where he shared a platform with Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP, UUP member David Burnside and Tory MP David Lidington, the Newry/Armagh MP went on: "The construction of the Irish Peace Process over the past decade has essentially been a series of steps, some big, some small but all in their own way important as we seek to move away from conflict and into a new future on the island."

"Sinn Féin appearing at the British Tory Conference is another small step upon the road to trying to build a normal relationship between Ireland and Britain. A relationship which has been characterised by colonialism, conflict, misunderstanding and division."

Murphy also told the conference that unionists needed to get real. "If unionism wants to exercise power, if unionism wants to deliver for the people of the North, then they are going to have to do that alongside Sinn Féin in the power sharing institutions of the Good Friday Agreement."

"Nationalists and republicans are no longer second-class citizens and they will never accept a return to the days of the unionist junta in Stormont," said Murphy.

"The Good Friday Agreement was a belated admission by the British political establishment that a political problem required political solutions. It was an admission that the policy followed by successive Tory and Labour Governments of trying to defeat Irish republicanism through state violence and repression had failed. It was an admission that dialogue was the way forward in resolving the conflict. Crucially it was an admission that Belfast was not as British as Finchley," said Murphy.

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