Category: Archive

Adams takes on critics at Sinn Fein’s ard fheis

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

DUBLIN — At a somber and angry Sinn Fein ard fheis, the party president, Gerry Adams, confronted his critics head-on, both inside and outside his party, while acknowledging that some republicans are questioning his leadership strategy.

He said defiantly that it had been correct to go beyond the party’s obligations in the Good Friday agreement on the arms issue and indicated he would continue to support efforts to break the weapons decommissioning impasse.

In his keynote presidential address at the Royal Dublin Society, Adams said it is still possible to save the agreement.

"Sinn Féin has not given up on unionists," he said. "Bypassing the unionists is not an option for us." He added that although the situation "is dark and at a low point," it could be rectified if the British government "behaved like a government rather than a message boy for unionism."

Adams also admonished his audience, saying they should never have believed making peace would be easy and exhorting them to greater efforts.

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Sinn Fein, he said, has to reorganize, modernize and develop policies that are "relevant, practical and effective," and take these out to parts of the island where people had not heard the republican message.

Adams also attacked both governments’ handling of the issue of paramilitary arms decommissioning, saying most nationalists would say the Good Friday agreement was "dead." He challenged the British government to defend its stewardship of the process, declaring that his party has not renegotiated one word in the section of the agreement dealing with arms.

He also lashed out at the SDLP and the Dublin government, saying London had caused "real anger" and "considerable frustration" by its handling of repeated crises in the process.

Martin McGuinness called on Northern Secretary Peter Mandelson to restore the North’s political institutions. McGuinness condemned the British government and unionists for blocking the assembly’s short-lived work by giving in to hardline unionists’ demands for IRA arms.

"The fact that there was such broad support for the work of the institutions show what a huge blunder it was for a British minister to wipe all of this good work away and set aside the Good Friday agreement," he said.

The closing session of the ard fheis passed a resolution proposed by the ard comhairle calling for a special delegate conference if a decision has to be taken on entering a coalition in the Republic.

The decision was made after a long debate, which saw an intervention by Adams, speaking in favor of the amendment, leaving the door open to coalition with Fianna Fail.

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