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16 December 1999 Edition

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New era of hope

As we enter the new millennium, the aim of Irish republicans - an independent 32-County republic, remains undiminished. This democratic objective will be pursued with the same vigour in the time ahead as it has been over previous decades and indeed centuries.

What will be different is that the struggle for Irish freedom and democracy will take place in a greatly changed atmosphere, if the political achievements of recent weeks are upheld.

This week's meeting of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council has initiated a new political reality in Ireland which sees Irish republicans at the centre of a new administration comprising elected representatives from throughout the island.

The All-Ireland Council signals further movement towards the full recognition of Irish national rights and the principle of equality for all the people sharing this island. The past week was another step on the road to a lasting political settlement.

Sinn Féin will bring a radical republican-labour perspective to the new institutions. Sinn Féin will strive to strengthen and develop the all-Ireland dimension and seek to lay the foundations for a new Ireland based on equality and real social justice.

Sinn Féin wants to build a new future based on the principle of inclusiveness and is prepared to work in a unique partnership with other nationalists and with the representatives of unionism to achieve this.

The achievements of recent weeks have been attained at great sacrifice by many people over the years. Not least has been the sacrifice of so many republican activists. As we enter a new century and a new millennium, republicans rededicate ourselves to struggle so that the free and democratic Ireland for which so many have laid down their lives will become a reality. In the months and years ahead it appears hopeful that we will do so in the knowledge that tangible progress has been made.

In the words of Martin McGuinness this week: ``This can be and, we hope is, the beginning of a new era for all of Ireland
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An Phoblacht
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