13 August 1998 Edition
Unionists told: face the future
Gerry Adams told the large, colourful 27th anti-internment march last Sunday that republicans ``cannot solve David Trimble's problems for him''. He called for a ``a radical and progressive unionism that was prepared to deal with true republicanism''.
His speech was a straightforward rebuttal of the rising calls for Sinn Féin to ``rescue'' David Trimble from his political difficulty. The message was the time has come for unionism to face up to the future and to deal face-to-face with Sinn Féin.
The march, complete with bands, banners and flags from all over Ireland, British solidarity groups, the Basque Country, Catalonia, the US, Cuba and other countries was one of the most colourful in years and following a week of festivities in nationalist areas of Belfast there was a palpable spirit of resistance and creativity.
Spirit of resistance and creativity
The 27th anti-internment march last Sunday started under darkened skies but ended in the heady sunshine of a fitful summer as Gerry Adams told republicans and supporters from across the world that the day, coming as it did at the end of a week of festivals, was proof of the significant strides forward taken by republicans and the complete failure of internment, torture and British rule.
Internment, the imprisoning of thousands of young men and women without trial, has left a black mark on the hearts of the nationalist people that has remained undiminished through the years of struggle. The impressive turn-out for the parade and established city centre rally was proof enough of this.
Bands, banners, flags and organisations from across Ireland, Europe and America; prams and wheelchairs; the young and not so young; came, saw, talked and celebrated the resistance and creativity.
At the rally, chaired by the SF Assembly member for Upper Bann, Dara O'Hagan, representatives from the Basque independence movement, the Troops Out Movement and Noraid expressed their unwavering support for the republican movement. And the delegation from Cuba that had delighted in being treated to the whole gamut of festivities also sent revolutionary greetings.
Sinn Fein Youth's Matt McCarthy underlined the vibrant and dynamic appeal of the youth movement and the growth it had achieved in the past year.
A statement from the Maghaberry and Long Kesh POWs emphasised that the paths to creating a peaceful settlement will always be blocked by unionists and the pro-unionist elements within the British establishment. To cheers and applause the statement also stressed that as a people, we have not and will never be defeated in the struggle for a 32 county democratic socialist republic.
Martin Meehan, Saoirse 6-county chairman, himself an ex-internee, told the crowd to not underestimate the so-called forces of law and order that tortured so many republicans in the past and had now risen to high rank. Urging people to ``stand shoulder-to-shoulder with POWs'' he asked that people not become complacent and ``go for it'' in becoming involved in ``maximising visible street protest''.
Taking up the phrase Dara O'Hagan said that the republican community must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of the Garvaghy Road, Lower Ormeau Road and Dunloy (to name a few) who were at ``the cutting edge of the struggle for equality''.
Gerry Adams reiterated that no-one could tell the republican movement what it should do and that as republicans ``we can not solve David Trimble's problems for him''. He called for a ``a radical and progressive unionism that was prepared to deal with true republicanism''.
Adams said, ``the continuity of the current phase of the struggle is down to the people. The British have been unable to break you, the republican people.'' He said that the responsibility in ensuring that Sinn Fein continue to move forward and pursue the agenda of change, leading to the ``decommissioning of the structures and issues of inequality'' is that you, ``the republican people'' continue to be active.