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14 December 2017

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Fianna Fáil leader speaking drivel on the north - Gerry Adams

“I have a message for Teachta Martin about nationalists in the North. He has missed this, but I do not believe the Government has missed the sea change in the attitude of nationalists in the past year. We will never again accept any British Government, unionist leader or any Dublin politician deciding what is or is not acceptable for us." - Gerry Adams TD

Speaking Last night in the Dáil Gerry Adams said,

“I welcome tonight's debate. It is important that there are regular opportunities in the Dáil and Seanad to discuss matters in the North. The objective of these debates should be to inform, not to misinform, mislead or waste the time of the Dáil, as the leader of Fianna Fáil has just done.

“The objective should be to ensure that Members of the Oireachtas are abreast of current developments and possible opportunities. There is a requirement for constructive dialogue and a positive engagement to encourage progress. We do not need a return to the politics of the past, which saw nationalists in the North abandoned by successive Irish Governments.

 “It is also important to remember that for many decades, nationalists in the North were the victims of institutionalised discrimination in housing, jobs, elections, the law and the institutions of the state.

“Partition saw the British retain the North within their jurisdiction at a time when it was the most advanced industrial part of the island. They were able to hold onto the North and influence the entire country when they coerced the pro-Treaty forces into accepting partition and the sectarian statelet which put a unionist elite in control.

“Anything that was nationalist or Irish was banned or derided and after decades of institutionalised violence and conflict, the peace process and the work of many good people, including former taoisigh, created a new political dispensation through the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements.

“Equality, parity of esteem and the human rights ethos of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights are now central to building a new society.

 “Sadly, there are still those among the leadership of political unionism who have yet to come to terms with these new realities. They continue to fight the old battles, defend the old sectarian attitudes and reject equality for all citizens.

“That is the current stance of the DUP which refuses to embrace the need for a rights-based society. They believe their position has been enhanced by the deal the party recently concluded with the Tories. As any student of Anglo-Irish politics will tell them, it will end in tears, as have all unionism's dalliances with the British.

“Edward Carson, the leader of unionism at the time of partition, reflected later on what had occurred and said ‘What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power’.

“While some progress has been made in Sinn Féin's talks with the DUP, there is no real evidence at this time of a willingness by its leadership to embrace the political institutions in the way required if they are to serve every single citizen. The Minister knows that. He was there and he knows what the problem is.

“Diplomacy might prevent him from saying that and I certainly will not say anything that will upset the apple cart, but the Minister knows where the problem lies.

“Michelle O'Neill has been working hard to have the political institutions restored on the basis of genuine power sharing. There is a special responsibility on political leadership. Deputy McDonald was at an engagement last Monday morning, and at another bigger engagement the week before that, with people from civic society who are not republicans.

“We believe we must bridge the divide between the people the various parties represent and establish a new dispensation which delivers for all. If the DUP wishes to be part of this and wishes to return to the Executive and the Assembly, it knows precisely what it must do.

“I have spent hours upon hours in recent months talking to the DUP leadership, along with others from the Sinn Féin leadership. It means agreeing a process for the implementation of past agreements. It means building respect, tolerance and equality. It also means the two Governments stepping up to the mark as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Following last week's publication of the phase one communication on Brexit, there has been much discussion about the differing interpretations of it by the British Government. Nobody in the House should be surprised by that. For example, there is a commitment to a bill of rights in the Good Friday Agreement, but 20 years later there is no bill of rights.

“The British Government refuses to countenance it. There is a commitment to establishing a civic forum, but there is no civic forum. In the St. Andrews Agreement, there is a commitment to an Irish language Act, but there is no such Act. In the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements between all the parties and the two governments, measures were agreed to deal with legacy issues. The British Government is blocking those.

“Teachta Martin knows the British Government is trying to insert what it calls a special security or national interest clause, and that has blocked the process ever since.

Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin.

“The Taoiseach and the Minister know, because I spoke to them about it, that in recent weeks the British tried to insert a statute of limitations covering all Troubles-related incidents for British crown forces in a new section - perhaps Teachta Martin does not know this - of the Stormont House Agreement.

“Our party was not told about this. To the best of my knowledge the Irish Government only knew about it when we brought it to its attention. This was an act of bad faith and it is unacceptable. I, Michelle O'Neill and Deputy McDonald told the British Prime Minister as much to her face. The British want everybody else to deal with the past, but they will not. The attitude we hear from Deputy Micheál Martin, which is untruthful and dishonest, does not put the focus where it belongs.

“Last Friday, the Taoiseach said that Northern nationalists would never again be left behind by an Irish Government. Teachta Martin's phony outrage at this would be amusing if it was not such a serious issue.

“The reality is that nationalists in the North were abandoned for generations by successive Irish Governments, but today, like a broken record, Teachta Martin repeats the sham argument about the two problem parties and accuses Sinn Féin of contriving to pull down the institutions or preventing them being reinstated.

“He chooses to ignore, as he did when he was in office, the serious allegations of corruption, in his case in his own party but in this case made by a former DUP Minister about the enormous financial cost, estimated at £700 million, it will inflict on the public purse.

“Teachta Martin turns a blind eye to the abundant evidence of DUP disrespect for, and rejection of, the rights of nationalist citizens in the North. I notice there is only one other Fianna Fáil Member on the Fianna Fáil benches this evening. They are probably as sick of listening to his drivel as everybody else.

“In his obsession, and it has become an obsession, he wants people in the North, who are living in a state that never wanted them, to meekly tolerate being treated as second class citizens.

“That might be the Fianna Fáil leader's way. He has brought being a hurler on the ditch into disrepute. He misleads the Dáil regularly with untruthful statements and puts words in my mouth that I never said. He refuses to accept the Sinn Féin mandate in the North while refusing to contest elections in the North.

“I have a message for Teachta Martin about nationalists in the North. He has missed this, but I do not believe the Government has missed the sea change in the attitude of nationalists in the past year. We will never again accept any British Government, unionist leader or any Dublin politician deciding what is or is not acceptable for us.

 “Martin McGuinness made a stand, and that stand was endorsed in two elections by the overwhelming majority of the nationalist electorate in the Six Counties. It was vindicated just a few days ago in the voices of 200 nationalists from civic society. These are not necessarily Sinn Féin supporters.

 “They might be, but I do not know. They wrote to the Taoiseach and appealed to him to reassure them of his commitment to stand for equality and a human rights based society and of his determination to secure and protect the rights of all citizens in the North of Ireland. We want the Fianna Fáil leader and the Government to stand up for, and vindicate, the rights of everyone in the North.

“These were lawyers, academics, sports people, writers and citizens from all walks of life seeking reassurance on the Taoiseach's commitment. Human rights lawyer, Niall Murphy, put it well when he asked why someone should have a right in Donegal but not have the same right in Derry. Why can somebody who can marry in this State and in Britain not do so in the North? Why can citizens in the North not have any of these rights?

“The DUP and the British Government are responsible for the political crisis in the North and for the lack of progress in the delivery of rights and in implementing past agreements. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Government have an onerous responsibility to act decisively, as does Sinn Féin. However, we will not run away from our responsibilities.

“I again appeal to the Government to take the lead. It is not the best option but it should take the lead by convening the intergovernmental conference early in the new year.

Declan Kearney, Michelle O'Neill and Carál Ní Chuilín

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Uncomfortable Conversations 

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An initiative for dialogue 

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