16 October 2008 Edition
Adams addresses crisis in political process
Speaking to An Phoblacht’s PEADAR WHELAN at a Sinn Féin selection convention that endorsed sitting MEP Bairbre de Brún as the party’s candidate for the Six County constituency in next year’s European election Party President GERRY ADAMS addressed the current crisis in the political process.
“Forty years ago this week”, said Adams, “a Civil Rights march in Derry was batoned off the streets by a unionist government incapable of coming to terms with the rights and entitlements of nationalists and republicans.
“The Duke Street march was a pivotal turning point in our recent history. Four decades later, and while much progress has been made, there are still some unionist politicians who want to turn the clock back; who want to rule the roost and who refuse to accept that nationalists and republicans have the right to human and civil rights, and to equality. This is not acceptable and Sinn Féin will not allow the hard work of recent years to be squandered”.
The Sinn Féin leader criticised those who, “have tried to portray this crisis as the result of Sinn Féin blocking measures within the Executive and refusing to allow that body to meet:
“This is neither true nor accurate. This political crisis is more fundamental than that. This crisis goes to the very heart and soul of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements”, stressed Adams. “It is about the partnership and power arrangements of these agreements”, he said.
Adams pointed the finger at the DUP’s refusal to work the Executive as a partnership government saying, “The crisis lies in the DUP’s refusal to work the Executive as a partnership and power sharing government. And it lies in the desire of some DUP representatives who want to run the institutions in the same way unionism used to run the North – in their interests solely, even though the leadership knows this is not sustainable.
“It is obvious that there are elements within the DUP who do not agree with power sharing and partnership as a political model or as a practical political way of governing. In addition, there are clearly elements of the DUP who really don’t want to have a Catholic about the place.
“They are opposed to power sharing in any form and some of them clearly believe that by stalling and delaying they can hollow out the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreement. As a result of this opposition the DUP has been retreating from its obligations under the St Andrews Agreement.
Adams accused some within the DUP, “of failing to embrace partnership government; they have run away from policing and justice obligations; they seek the retention of an outdated class based education system, and have sought to undermine the rights and entitlements of Irish speakers.
“And all of this is wrapped in the most abusive and offensive language.”
Outlining the outworking of the DUP’s negativity the Sinn Féin President maintained, “In effect the position adopted by the DUP since June is a challenge to all of the parties and in particular to the two governments.
“Since early June Sinn Féin has been attempting to get the DUP to engage in a real and meaningful negotiation. The DUP have avoided any real engagement. By their actions the DUP risks squandering much of the good work done in the first year of the operation of the new institutions”.
Emphasising the Sinn Féin position Adams said, “Our party makes no apology for standing firmly in defence of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements and demanding they are fully implemented. And we are determined that the rights and entitlements of every citizen are upheld.
“We will continue to do all that we can to ensure that the political institutions work on the basis that they were agreed in partnership and equality”.
Concluding Adams stressed that the party was still focused in its all-Ireland strategy saying, “Sinn Féin across this island is focused on bringing out the biggest republican vote possible in the European elections. “We will be the only party standing in all five constituencies on this island and we are appealing for support in every county on this island. I am confident that we have the right candidates, the right message and the best election team in the field.”