is clear that the last few years have been one of
extraordinary growth and success for the Republican
Movement. This statement is every bit as true in the
West Indies as it is in Ireland, and I am delighted
to have the opportunity to address the wider Republican
family. It is perhaps fair to say that the publishers
of the Blanket have not always been as supportive
as they might of the Movement's efforts, or sufficiently
appreciative of our triumphs, but now is not the time
for recriminations. I know many people are cynical
about Sinn Fein supporters on this side of the Atlantic,
even one who like me has experienced the full horror
of partition as a child in Foxrock, but many of us
feel that our very distance lends us an objectivity
and detachment which perhaps the locals lack. We can
see the wood from the trees when it comes to our petty
squabbles. I am sure I speak for the whole Movement
when I say, whatever harsh words may have passed,
we are prepared to forgive you.
why such cynicism in the face of our record of achievement?
There can be no doubt that the Good Friday Agreement
was the most significant victory in our history. After
30 years of sacrifice, frequently our own, we have
finally set a course for unity. For years the British
insisted on the so-called "principle of consent"
i.e. that there could be no united Ireland without
the consent of its people. That position has now been
turned on its head with the guarantee that Ireland
will be united when the people of the North consent.
I can, of course, appreciate that some are impatient
for change but to them I say "take courage";
as the recent census results make clear, the tide
is moving inexorably in our favour, and soon there
will be enough nationalists to free us once and for
all from the tyranny of rule by sectarian head-count.
While others were writing their clever articles, we
were getting real results.
criticism we hear is that the community got nothing
(actually some use quite a rude expression!) out of
the GFA. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The community had its imprisoned leadership restored
to it without which it would have been rudderless,
and those same men are now holding the levers of power,
and why? Because we forced the British to concede
power sharing. The days when schools and hospitals
could be closed at the stroke of some British carpet-bagger's
pen, my friends, are a thing of the past. Some of
our critics are so consumed by jealousy that they
will even criticise our public representatives for
earning an honest wage, as if they should not be entitled
to parity of esteem with unionist MLAs. The days when
your representatives (and therefore you) could be
treated as second class citizens are a thing of the
past. Our leaders are first class citizens now and
we should applaud this. Perhaps you think that some
middle of the road crooner deserves a bigger cottage
than the leader of this great movement? Believe it
or not there are some so-called republicans who do!
criticism often heard is that we have institutionalised
sectarianism. To them I say this; Sinn Fein is not
a sectarian party. Wolfe Tone was a Protestant. I
hope that clears the matter up.
greetings in struggle to all our stragglers, and let's
all make a new year's resolution to be more positive
Sands, Ceann Comhairle, Caribbean Sinn Fein
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