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13 April 2006 Edition

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A Proclamation for all

BY McLaughlin Mitchel

Mitchel McLaughlin

Mitchel McLaughlin

While Irish Republicans commemorate the 1916 Rising this weekend I would encourage unionists to study the Proclamation. They will see that it is not the property of any one section of Irish people or any single political party. It is a vision of what the signatories believed an Ireland sovereign and free could offer all of its people - Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.

It declared: "The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities for all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally."

Those who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement, unwittingly perhaps for some, emulated the sentiments of the Proclamation. The Agreement's core principles are equality and parity of esteem for both traditions- all sections of society should enjoy 'religious and civil liberty, equal rights and opportunities'. Unionists who signed the Agreement recognised and accepted these ideals.

Unfortunately, instead of robustly defending the Agreement and promoting its benefits, Unionist leaders pandered to a coterie in their ranks intent on destroying it.

There is still a majority of unionists supportive of the Agreement and who accept the changing political reality on this island.

So, this Easter I would ask republicans to reach out to unionists, in an attempt to explain the philosophy of republicanism. To demonstrate that when we say we want to build an Ireland of equals, that means equality in every aspect of life for every individual regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation or political persuasion. When we pledge to 'cherish all the children of the nation equally' it doesn't mean only republican or nationalist children.

On 15 May Sinn Féin will go back to the Assembly in a serious endeavour to resurrect the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. The governments and most parties, accept this as the way forward. The big challenge is for the DUP. If it refuses to participate, the onus will be on the two governments to deliver on their commitment to the process.

Sinn Féin wants to share power with the DUP and others on the basis of the equality of our mandates. The so-called Plan 'B' is not better than Plan 'A'- a fully functioning Executive and political institutions. But in the absence of an Executive we will insist that the two governments dispense their responsibility to implement all outstanding aspects of the Agreement.

We will be meeting the governments to seek clarity and detail on the accelerated all-Ireland co-operation and action they say will replace the Assembly if the DUP is not prepared to share power.

Regardless of whichever path is required after 15 May Sinn Féin will continue to press ahead with building an Ireland of equals based on the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation. Perhaps that is the real fear that Ian Paisley has about going into government with Sinn Féin- that working together we will demonstrate that we don't need Westminster politicians controlling our political or economic destiny.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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