Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams joined with President Bill Clinton and the leaders of seven leading Irish American organisations last night in New York to celebrate 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement. The organisations represented included: Friends Of Sinn Féin; Ancient Order of Hibernians; The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick; Brehon Law Society; James Connolly Irish American Labor Coalition; and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Speaking after the event Mr. Adams welcomed the remarks by President Clinton that the Executive and Assembly should be restored.
Addressing a packed hall in Cooper Union Building on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement Mr. Adams said:
“The Good Friday Agreement is the most important political agreement of our time in Ireland. The twists and turns from then to now have been many. Currently the institutions are suspended due to the intransigence of the DUP and the machinations of successive Tory governments. This is unacceptable.
The results of the last election to the Northern Assembly need to be respected. The DUP need to take up their Ministerial posts with the rest of us.
If the DUP remain intransigent then the two governments should move ahead using the Good Friday Agreement all-Ireland mechanisms. A return to British direct rule is not an option. The governments need to implement those crucial elements of the Agreement that have still not been implemented, including a Bill of Rights for the North.
The Tory government should withdraw its deeply flawed and offensive Legacy Bill and implement the agreements on Legacy reached 10 years ago.”
Commenting on the continuing role of the US Administration Mr. Adams added:
“We appreciate the work done by President Biden to defend the Good Friday Agreement. People in Ireland still need the White House to act as guarantor of the Agreement, as President Clinton did and as President Biden continues to do.
And embedded into the Agreement is the right of the people of Ireland to decide our future. It does not belong to an English government or indeed the DUP.
The people of Ireland have for the first time a peaceful way to end the union with England and to build our own future. No one should be allowed to take that right away from us.”
Mr. Adams called on the Irish government to establish a Citizen’s Assembly and he spoke of the need for reconciliation and the protection of the rights of unionists. He said:
“The Irish government should establish a Citizen’s Assembly or series of such Assemblies to discuss the process of constitutional change and the measures needed to build an all-Ireland economy, a truly national health service and education system and much more.
We need national reconciliation in a citizen centred rights based society including the rights of our unionist neighbours – and the Orange Order and other loyal institutions.
The protections in the Good Friday Agreement are their protections also. The island of Ireland is their land, their home place. The unionists are our neighbours. We want them to be our friends. Sinn Féin is committed to upholding their rights and to working with them to make the island of Ireland a better place for everyone.
The new Ireland planned and built by all of the people of the island can accommodate and celebrate our differences and diversity. Very few countries get the chance to begin anew. Ireland, North and South, has that chance.
So despite the current difficulties the future looks bright. What is needed is the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, including a date and planning for the unity referendum.
The Good Friday Agreement has created a democratic and peaceful path to Irish reunification. It is now a do-able project. And with the continuing support of Irish America we can make it happen.”