23 February 2006 Edition
The Task Ahead
The attempt this week to exclude Sinn Féin from political talks is a blatant violation of the principles of the Good Friday Agreement. It is a pathetic attempt to revert to the failed policies of the past in Ireland and it will not work nor will it be tolerated.
If either government believed that Sinn Féin, the second largest party in the Six Counties, the main nationalist party there and the most dynamic and growing political force on this island, would co-operate in a process of excluding itself, they had better think again.
The DUP's reactionary refusal to engage in constructive politics should not be rewarded or encouraged for one minute. The two governments have a responsibility to impress upon the DUP the absolute necessity for constructive political engagement as the only way forward.
Unionists are not the only ones who can exercise vetoes. Republicans, through growing strength of numbers across this country and through our clear focus on our political strategy also have a veto. That veto will be used not just to prevent the political exclusion of Sinn féin but in a positive way to shape the political future of this country.
Delegates leaving Sinn Féin's Ard Fhéis last Sunday face a number of key strategic tasks in the time ahead. In political negotiations Sinn Féin will focus on advancing the Peace Process and securing the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and a new beginning to policing in the North.
Republicans will continue to reach out to unionism. We know that the unionist community is not monolithic but that politically it has been badly led.
Republicans will also reach out to the British people and the Irish in Britain. There exists the potential to build a successful Irish solidarity movement in Britain on a par with the USA. Such a movement must be mobilised in support of Irish unity.
In advancing its agenda for a united Ireland of equals Sinn Féin's task will be to join with other progressive forces throughout Ireland to change the country for the better day by day, guided by the principles of equality, liberty and solidarity.
The other pressing task facing Sinn Féin is the continued building up of the party, particularly in the light of forthcoming elections. Sinn Féin welcomes more members, particularly women, to its ranks. As many people as possible are needed to assist in our task of building a new Ireland.