Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Unity Debate

From Gerry Adams
June 18, 2011
Sinn Féin is holding a major conference today in Dublin to promote the objective of Uniting Ireland.

The Dublin conference has attracted significant speakers. Among them are Rev. Gary Mason from East Belfast; Brian Keenan, former Beirut hostage; former UDP representative and Irish Times columnist Davy Adams; Dr. John Bradley, an economic consultant, who was formerly a Research Professor at the ESRI and regularly advises the European Commission, the World Bank and other international organisations and governments; Dr. Pádraic White, Former IDA Managing Director, Entrepreneur & Chairman Employers Services Board West Belfast and Greater Shankhill; Michael D'Arcy, a Dublin-based economic and business consultant and Norah Gibbon, Barnardos, Director of Advocacy.

Speaking this morning just before the conference commenced Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:

“This conference and the one next Saturday in Cork are part of a strategy by Sinn Féin to raise awareness and encourage a national conversation around the goal of a United Ireland and create inclusive platforms for an engagement on this crucially important issue.

“It does not make sense on an island this small with just six million people to have two states and two governments.

“There is a significant duplication of public and private services, two sets of currencies, and two tax systems, laws and regulations.

“And at a time when every cent or pence is needed to rebuild the economy, this duplication of government and public services is wasteful and costly.

“The Good Friday Agreement provides a roadmap to build all-island approaches.

“Sinn Féin seeks to erase the border and its adverse impact on the lives of citizens, through practical co-operation and imaginative policies, including the full utilization of the all-island institutions that were created by the Good Friday Agreement.

“In the negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement Sinn Fein succeeded in getting the British to scrap the Government of Ireland Act through which it claimed jurisdiction over a part of Ireland.

“This was a significant development. Last week in his speech to the Assembly the British Prime Minister David Cameron repeated this position.

“He said, ‘as the Agreement makes very clear’, the constitutional future of the north does not rest in his hands or those of his government but in the hands of the people.
As a unionist Mr. Cameron made his preference clear but he was equally frank in his public declaration that the British government will always back the democratic wishes of the people whether ‘to remain part of the United Kingdom, as is my strong wish…or whether it’s to be part of a united Ireland’.

“The Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements have mapped out a legislative and democratic route toward uniting Ireland.

“A new Ireland must be fully inclusive. Sinn Féin believes that the interests of citizens and society on this island will be best served by a republican system of governance based on the rights of people.

“But that is a matter for the people to decide. There are other models which can be considered, including federal arrangements. They could serve transitional measures or as governmental systems in their own right.

“A key part of the debate about the future must be a discussion with unionists about what they mean by Britishness and how a new Ireland – whether or not it is a Republic - can accommodate this.

“It also means mapping out the steps necessary in the time ahead to progress toward uniting Ireland.

“For example:

“The Taoiseach commissioning a Green Paper on Irish unity which would address all aspects of this national and democratic project including its political, social, economic, cultural, legal, administrative and international dimensions.

“A Joint Committee of the Oireachtas on Irish Unity to monitor, assess and report progress on its implementation should be established.

“And a new constitution – discussed and debated and agreed by all sections of people on this island, which would enshrine citizens rights in law.” ENDS

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