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November 05, 2004

News 11/04/04 - Adams: Direct Rule Not Sustainable

From: Gerry Coleman
Re: Gerry Adams Speaks in New York:
“Direct rule not sustainable...”
Date: 4 November, 2004

Gerry Adams addressed the annual Friends of Sinn Féin
Dinner in New York tonight demanding 'that in the
absence of a deal the two governments bring forward
proposals rooted in the Agreement to see its full
implementation.' He also warned Direct Rule was not
sustainable in the long term and suggested that 'the
two governments look to formal institutionalised power
sharing at government level.'

There are many aspects of the talk that should
resonate with INAC activists and it is a solid
assessment of the current situation. Perhaps you
could email and otherwise distribute it to your people
and others you think might be interested.

The Full Text:

The Current Crisis

The peace process has suffered a succession of crises.
The British government has stepped outside the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement and suspended the
political institutions three times. They have
cancelled elections to the Assembly twice.

This refusal by the British to accept the democratic
right of citizens to vote for parties of their choice;
the failure of some parties to stand by commitments,
and London's unwillingness to fulfil its obligations,
is partly the cause of the ongoing difficulties.

But the core of the crisis is rooted in the resistance
by political unionism to the implementation of the
Good Friday Agreement, and their opposition to the
agenda of change the Agreement heralded. It is rooted
in the failure of the British system to challenge

Throughout this period Sinn Féin has worked hard and
diligently to create a context in which the
institutions can be restored and the Good Friday
Agreement implemented in full. Our efforts have been
made more difficult by a British government approach
which consistently allies itself to unionism and seeks
to appease unionist demands; even when those demands
are clearly at odds with the Agreement. This approach
by the British government is not a basis for stability
and progress. On the contrary it is a recipe for
ongoing uncertainty and crisis. I have told Mr. Blair

The British have to move back to the Agreement

I have also told him that the British government has
not implemented with 'rigorous impartiality' its
responsibilities in respect of equality and 'civil,
political, social and cultural rights.' Consequently
many in political unionism see no imperative to
co-operate with nationalist or republican
representatives. In fact British policy tolerates and
perpetuates institutionalised inequality.

For example, recent discrimination figures reveal that
nothing much has changed in the levels of
discrimination faced by Catholics. The areas that were
listed in the 1970's as areas of multiple deprivation
are the same areas listed today.

None of this should surprise republicans and
nationalists. The fact is that British government
strategy aims first and foremost to service British
national interests. At this time this is essentially
about upholding the Union while trying to modernize
the way the state is run. At the same time British
strategy remains in a strategic alliance with

So to modernize even within the limits of its own
policy means London has to challenge rejectionist

Mr. Blair conceded this point to me recently and he
argued that his government's relationship with
unionism has changed. I told him the fundamentals have
not changed and if his government's relationship with
unionism has changed the rest of us need to see
evidence of that.
The fact is that the British state in the North is
still a unionist state. Its symbols and emblems are
unionist. So too are its agencies. And its management.
But the Good Friday Agreement is about changing all of
this. It is about equality for all. It is a contract
which binds both governments to these objectives. So,
while Mr. Blair may be trying to modernise unionism,
his strategy and policy mean that inevitably it is the
UUP and DUP which are allowed to determine the pace
and depth of change. This is in direct contradiction
of the Agreement.

We therefore have to change British policy. London has
to get back to the Agreement.

We also have to be remember that unionists are against
a United Ireland. Many unionists see the Good Friday
Agreement as a step in that direction. Some are
genuinely afraid that Irish unity will see them
dispossessed, discriminated against or worse. They
believe that the union maintains the status quo.

Republicans and nationalists therefore have to
understand the genuine fears held by unionists and
seek to address these by the totality of our
commitment to equality and human rights, to
inclusiveness and fairness. But we also have a
responsibility to ensure that Good Friday Agreement is
implemented in full despite the opposition of the
rejectionists. None of this will be easy. But whoever
said it would be. It has not been easy thus far.

Despite this Sinn Féin is determined to find a
resolution to the current crisis in the peace process.
We are equally determined to pursue our goals of Irish
unity and independence. These are our priorities as a
political party. These are my personal priorities as
leader of Sinn Féin .

Making a Deal

But Sinn Féin can't make a deal on our own. It needs
the British and Irish governments. It needs unionist
leaders. For the past 10 months Sinn Féin has been
involved in a series of engagements with the two
governments to try and achieve this. Our endeavours
have been made more difficult by Ian Paisley's refusal
to negotiate face to face with Sinn Féin. I have lost
count of the number of meetings I have had this year
with officials from the two governments. I have lost
count of the number of meetings and telephone
conversations I have had with the Taoiseach and the
British Prime Minister. There were months of
negotiations leading up to all-party talks at
Lancaster House in London in June. Those discussions
failed because the DUP wanted to participate in the
orange marching season in July and August, and because
key leaders of that party were going off on holiday.

Sinn Féin continued to work over the summer and we and
others, including some unionist representatives
succeeded in keeping the summer peaceful despite the
disgraceful decision to deploy the British parachute
regiment in Ardoyne to facilitate and orange march
there. In September we were back in England for
another round of talks, this time at Leeds Castle in
Kent. These also failed because the DUP wanted
fundamental changes which would subvert the
powersharing, equality and all-Ireland nature of the

And since then we have been involved in a series of
intense private negotiations with the two governments
and through them the DUP. So far these too have failed
for the same reason.

The DUP's aim is to bring back unionist rule. Those
days are gone. There will be no return to unionist

We are told that the DUP is now for power sharing. But
last week in Castlereagh Council, a local Council on
the outskirts of East Belfast, efforts by several of
the smaller parties to have powersharing introduced
were thwarted by the DUP. The DUP Deputy Leader Peter
Robinson led the opposition to the proposed change.
Here was an opportunity for the DUP to show some
generosity and imagination with no great risk to its
dominance in the council. So what did the DUP do? They
did what rejectionist unionism does best. The DUP said

None of this surprises us, sad though it is. And there
is little point in being annoyed just for the sake of
it. There is no question about the DUPs intentions at
this time. The real question is about how long the
British government will tolerate DUP game playing?

Two Governments have to call it!

So, where to next?

The DUP needs to understand that the Good Friday
Agreement is as good as it gets. And the DUP must also
understand, and the governments must make it clear,
that the refusal by Ian Paisley to reach agreement
with the rest of us cannot stop the process of change.

All the political parties in Ireland except the DUP
are for the Good Friday Agreement. The vast majority
of citizens support the Agreement.
There comes a time in every negotiation when parties
to the negotiation have to call it. In this phase of
the negotiation the DUP have had enough time.

They obviously do not want to do a deal except on
their own unacceptable terms. It is now time for the
two governments to call it. So in the next few weeks I
am looking to the two governments to bring forward
proposals, rooted in the Agreement, to see the full
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Both governments need no reminding that Sinn Féin is a
United Ireland party. For us the Agreement is a
significant compromise, a strategic and transitional
compromise but a compromise nonetheless. Many
republicans will tolerate that for the sake of
progress. But without progress the management
difficulties which challenge the Sinn Féin leadership
will magnify.

Compromise is a two way street. In fairness to the DUP
they were no part of that. They rejected the Agreement
and walked out of the negotiations. Mr. Blair did not.
He signed up to deliver his end of the compromise. Six
and a half years later his day has come.

Powersharing by the Governments

The British and Irish governments have to defend the
principles and core values of the agreement. They also
have to ensure that these are reflected in the their
policy decisions. The Irish and British governments
are co-equal partners in the implementation of the
Direct rule by a British government from London is not
acceptable nor is it sustainable in the long term. The
British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach know this.
The all-Ireland architecture of the Agreement points
the way forward.

While the DUP refuses to share power with its
republican and nationalist neighbours, and until
unionists are prepared to work with the rest of us as
equals, the two governments must drive the process of
change forward.


Its not just parties who can share power - governments
can share power also. The British and Irish
governments must look to formal institutionalised
power sharing at governmental level.

The structures already established under the
Agreement, around issues as diverse as health, and
education, tourism and investment, energy and
waterways must be built on and expanded. These include
the existing Implementation Bodies, as well as the
Areas of Co-operation.
Greater effort and emphasis must go into co-ordinating
our human and economic resources to entrench and
strengthen the co-operative and partnership nature of
the Agreement. For example, economic co-operation and
joint planning and an all-Ireland investment programme
could be planned on a joint Ministerial basis.

And there are many good reasons for the governments to
go ahead with the All-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum
and the All-Ireland Charter of Human Rights.

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair have to send a clear
message to the rejectionists, and to all those who
would frustrate the work of the peace process, that
there is going to be a substantial and significant
investment of effort and resources, into powersharing
by the governments to bring about the full
implementation of the Agreement.

And if the DUP still refuses to engage properly then
the British government should dissolve the Assembly.
It is necessary for the governments to do all this
because they are obliged to do so under the terms of
the Agreement. Because it is the right thing to do,
though this has rarely, if ever, been a factor in
British policy on Ireland. But it is also the
tactically smart thing to do because without
encouragement political unionism will have no
incentive to join the process.

Why should they engage positively if they can delay
progress and be rewared for messing about? Why should
the rest of us have to wait on them so that citizens
can have basic rights?

Mr. Blair needs to give the DUP a choice. They need to
know they can be part of the process now but that if
they don't, or won't, or cannot bring themselves to
join with the rest of us then the process is not
waiting any longer.

It is my view that unionism will eventually engage.
Civic unionism, the business community, the broad raft
of unionist opinion is for moving on. In many ways
political unionism is lagging behind its own broad
constituency. But none of us received a mandate to
behave in an irresponsible way. Political parties
which are serious about representing their
constituents will come to terms with a new
dispensation when they know they have to.

The onus is now firmly on Mr. Blair to lay the
foundations for that new dispensation. So, although
there are clearly great difficulties and challenges
ahead I would urge you all to keep the faith and to
press ahead. Look at how far we have come.

The US Contribution

Ten years ago it was all very different. Ten years ago
there was no peace process.

Ten years ago Sinn Féin was a demonised organisation
sowing the seeds of our peace strategy to a censored
and sceptical media, pioneering delicate and difficult
talks in a society which was polarised by the
relentless cycle of ongoing injustice and violence.

Ten years ago we were told that peace was impossible
and that Irish unity was a pipe dream.

And then came the IRA cessation and the political
landscape began to change.

Not least as a consequence of the work of Irish
America - and the support of Irish America - of the
people in this room - to the efforts for peace.

Ten years ago Irish America committed itself to
working to end visa restrictions on Irish republicans;
to helping to secure equal access to the
Administration and political opinion; to encourage
private and corporate investment, and aid from the
government; and to persuade the Administration here to
act as a guarantor of any agreement which might be

Much of this was accomplished but much remains to be
done. Whatever happens in the discussions over the
next few weeks the peace process is now entering a new
and more intense phase. Since I arrived yesterday I
have met Republicans who are justifiably pleased and
Democrats who are justifiably on a downer in the wake
of your election. I know there are many issues of
contention between you but there are Republicans and
Democrats in this room. Why?

Because despite your political differences you care
about Ireland. You my friends - Irish America - is
what the democrats and the republicans have in common
on Ireland. So as an outsider as I extend
congratulations to George Bush and commiserations to
John Kerry I call upon you all to redouble you're your
efforts in the time ahead. Here in the United States
we need a reinvigorated, renewed focus on peace in

That means Irish America working as never before for
the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
That means Irish America strategically engaging with
the White House and Capitol Hill in support of Irish
unity and independence and changing British policy.
There are a wide range of Irish organisations and
solidarity groups in the U.S. - come together,
discuss, argue if you must, but agree a plan of
campaign that will ensure that as Sinn Féin grows in
political strength in Ireland that here in the United
States there is a growth in the popular demand for
Irish unity and independence.

You can do it. We can do it together. We have now seen
what is possible. Any of you who have visited the
north in recent years will have seen the
transformation. The reality is that across the island
of Ireland life is better for the vast majority of our
people. There are hundreds of people, thousands of
people, who are alive today who might otherwise be
dead and many more who would have been injured. That
progress cannot be squandered.

Peace is possible, real and lasting and permanent -
and a united, independent Ireland is ours if we want
it badly enough, if we win support for that objective
and if we are prepared to work hard to achieve it. So
my friends stay with us in this great endeavour ."

Jay Dooling (
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