Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD addressed the National Hunger Strike commemoration in Dundalk.
The Sinn Féin leader spoke of the courage and selflessness of the hunger strikers and of their families; “their indomitable spirit and selflessness stand out as an inspiration to us all”.
“The generosity and self-sacrifice of the hunger strikers, and the hard work and support of thousands of people across this island, inflicted a historic defeat on the Thatcher government.”
Gerry Adams attacked the shallow politics of the conservative parties in Dublin.
“Fine Gael and Labour can rightly be blamed for the implementation of austerity policies and the dire social and economic consequences they have created.
“But there is no difference in policy between Fine Gael and Labour, and Fianna Fail. They will not deliver a fair recovery but more of the same old cronyism and clienteles.
“A general election is only months, perhaps weeks away. The Government says that a recovery is underway. If it is, it isn’t a fair recovery. It is a two-tier recovery that benefits them and their friends at the top, not the majority of hard-working, fair-minded Irish citizens.
“Fine Gael and Labour will make one last desperate effort in October to buy the next election. We cannot and should never take the electorate for granted but I am confident that citizens will not be fooled.
“Sinn Féin offers a different way – a better way – to build a fair recovery. It is our responsibility to win the largest mandate possible for our party and for a fair recovery.
“The reality is that the leaderships of Fine Gael and Labour and Fianna Fáil long ago abandoned any real belief in the principles of equality and of rights contained in the Proclamation, or any commitment to a united, free and independent Ireland.
“Partitionism dominates and defines their politics. For them the struggle for Irish freedom ended with the Treaty and the Civil War. It ended with partition. But Ireland divided never can be free. So for us the struggle continues. And Sinn Féin is in the vanguard.
“For that reason our enemies seek at every opportunity to attack our mandate, to undermine the rights and entitlements of our electorate, and to undermine the peace process. Like the men and women of Armagh and the H Blocks they seek to criminalise us. They didn’t succeed in 1981 and they won’t succeed today.”
The Sinn Féin leader also criticised those who have “opportunistically and cynically” sought to use the recent killings of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan to attack Sinn Féin.
Gerry Adams said:
“Let me be very clear. The killings of Jock Davison and of Kevin McGuigan were wrong. Those involved do not represent republicanism. They are not the IRA. The IRA has gone away – you know.
“That organisation, undefeated, took the momentous step in 2005 and ordered an end to its armed campaign; instructed its representatives to ‘engage with the IICD to complete the process to verifiably put its arms beyond use’ and ordered its volunteers to take part only in ‘purely political and democratic programmes’ and no ‘other activities whatsoever’.
“None of the many alphabet groups that now claim the proud name of the Irish Republican Army have a right to that title. They have no connection whatsoever with the men and women who bravely resisted British militarism in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and who defeated Thatcher in Armagh women’s prison and the H Blocks of Long Kesh.
“As we approach the centenary of 1916 there is no need, rationale, or reason for any armed groups whatsoever. It’s time they called an end to their sham campaigns.
“I have a similar blunt message for those who engage in a sham fight at Stormont on this issue in order to slow down or dilute the necessary process of change. Those who threaten to take action against Sinn Féin in the political institutions have no basis whatsoever for this.
“Sinn Féin’s mandate and the rights and entitlements of our electorate deserve exactly the same respect and protection as anyone else’s. And Sinn Féin will defend that assertively and robustly.
“We will not be lectured to by those who have failed to honour their obligations time and again. For our part Sinn Féin has kept every commitment we have made.” ENDS/CRÍOCH