Last night – Thursday – Louth TD and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams addressed the annual Friends of Sinn Féin Dinner in New York. It was a packed event.
The Sinn Féin leader thanked Irish America for its crucial support for the Irish peace process describing it as “the driver which kept the peace process on the agenda of the main parties in the USA.”
Gerry Adams spoke of the dangers of Brexit to the process and to the political and constitutional arrangements that are fundamental to the Good Friday Agreement. He said:
“In the June referendum the British state decided leave the European Union. The people of the North voted to remain. This is one of the biggest issues facing the people of the island of Ireland today. But it is also an opportunity. The outcome of the negotiations around Brexit will have profound implications for the Irish people.
Sinn Fein believes that if the British government wants to exit from the EU that is their choice. But London is insisting that when Britain leaves it wil drag the North with them. That is wrong. What Sinn Fein wants is a Brexit from Ireland.
Brexit will reshape arrangements and relationships between Ireland and Britain and between us and the European Union. Our task must be to ensure that any new arrangements on the island of Ireland are to the mutual benefit of everyone who lives here.
This means that the Irish government must uphold the vote of the people in the North who have refused to give their consent to be taken out of the EU by London. It also means there is an obligation on all of us to explore alternatives to Brexit – and all options available to build support for designated special status for the North within the European Union.”
The Sinn Féin leader spoke of the threat to the Good Friday Agreement. He said:
“As well as the enormous and unprecedented economic challenges that face us, Brexit threatens the entire post-Good Friday Agreement architecture, including planning to scrap the Human Rights Act and to end their relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights. The British government is putting our process of change, our economy and our political institutions, at risk.
So, the choice is simple – acquiesce to the demands of London and allow the North to be dragged out of the EU, at the whim of an English government, or pursue the credible path to argue at European level and with the British government for the North to be designated a special status within the EU. “
Concluding Gerry Adams said: “Just as there are massive challenges, there is also the opportunity to plot a new course forward – a course that will end the partition of our island.
The British government is now obliged to legislate for Irish unity if a majority wants that. The duty of the Irish government should be to achieve this. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
If it was it would mean promoting all-Ireland co-operation and building relationships between our people. It would mean an end to partitionist thinking by policy makers; and yes – in the media also. It would mean enlisting international support for all of these objectives.”