Adams accuses Government of dumbing down 1916 Rising
Martin McGuinness says unionists must not be allowed to ‘roll back’ progress
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has accused the Government of attempting to “dumb down” Easter 1916 and of seeking to draw equivalence between the Rising and World War 1
Mr Adams in a speech at the GPO in Dublin today said the 1916 proclamation remained “unfinished business” and now was the time for a Border poll on a united Ireland.
“The Fine Gael/Labour Government hasn’t yet set out its proposed centenary commemorative programme. Its whole approach so far has been to dumb down the revolutionary period of 1916 and its aftermath,” he said.
The Sinn Féin president said that clearly the First World War was an important historic event and given the numbers of Irish men, nationalist and unionist, who fought and died, it was important that it was remembered.
“However, the Easter Rising was a defining part of the revolutionary period in Ireland and was a strike for the freedom of the Irish nation. There can be no equivalence between the two,” he said.
Mr Adams said that partition was stunting Ireland’s potential - politically, socially and economically. The 1916 goal of a united Ireland was “unfinished business which the vast majority of the Irish people want to see brought to completion”.
“A Border poll provides an opportunity to begin building a modern, dynamic, New Ireland. Sinn Féin believes that it is time to let the people have their say.”
Mr Adams said that an elite - “politically represented by the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaderships, often supported by the Labour Party, oversaw a culture of corruption and golden circles” and that it was these “same interests that collapsed the Irish economy six years ago and forfeited the sovereignty of this state”.
“As each week exposes further examples of this toxic culture, the case for genuine republican politics becomes ever clearer,” he added.
Both Mr Adams and the North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, speaking in Monaghan, said that Dublin must put pressure on the British government to “unambiguously” support the Haass proposals on flags, parades and the past and in turn act to persuade unionism to adopt the proposals.
“Republicans fully acknowledge the hurt that we inflicted in the course of the conflict. Unionists also need to recognise the hurt they have created,” said Mr McGuinness.
“They need to turn their back on the inequality and repression that marked 50 years of one party rule in the north. They need to challenge rejectionist unionists. They need to show positive leadership rather than pandering to the extremes of Orangeism,” he said.
Mr McGuinness, referring to US diplomat Dr Richard Haass’s proposals, said “political unionism” must not be allowed to “roll back on the progress” since the Belfast Agreement 16 years ago. “None of the difficulties that the political process faces is insurmountable. With political will, it is possible to resolve all of the outstanding and toxic issues. This will only happen when both the Irish and British Governments take a leadership role in ensuring such an outcome,” he said.
“Political unionism has either rejected the Haass proposals or prevaricated,” he added. “The negative approach of the British government has facilitated this. The British have broken their commitments under the Good Friday and subsequent agreements. This is emboldening intransigent unionism.”
Mr McGuinness referring to his meeting with Queen Elizabeth during President Michael D Higgins’s state visit to Britain said that republicans had shown “in words and deeds” that they were “absolutely committed to the process of reconciliation”.
He added, “But unionists must also participate in this process. They need to reach out to republicans. The conflict was long and bitter. Many people were hurt on all sides. No one has a monopoly on suffering. It is time to begin discussing how shared hurts can be acknowledged, lessened, and if possible healed.”