Thursday 21 September 2017

'Political leaders need to show leadership': Gerry Adams on reconciliation in the north and post-Brexit fears

Prince Charles shakes hands with Sein Fein leader Gerry Adams
Prince Charles shakes hands with Sein Fein leader Gerry Adams

Kathy Armstrong

Gerry Adams admits he feels there's more pressure on him to work towards reconciliation in Northern Ireland since Martin McGuinness passed away.

The Sinn Fein President spoke about the importance of the visit Prince Charles and his wife Camilla to Ireland and why political leaders must push for ongoing peace.

Speaking of McGuinness' role in bringing peace to northern Ireland, he said: "Martin was in a prime position to do that because of his status, because of his office.

"It was personal but also a political thing, Martin didn't do any of those initiatives without the full support of the Sinn Fein leadership, including myself, and I'm very aware of his absence.

"Our new leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, is as wedded to this as I am and I see today's engagement as being very important and also I said this some years ago that we need reconciliation in the streets and in the back lanes up the country roads, as well as in the big houses and the residences." 

"We need reconciliation among people on the ground and that's where political leaders need to show leadership.

"I'm very content in myself that that's part of my responsibility and what I have to do."

Read More: Charles and Camilla meet Irish President

The Prince of Wales is greeted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin
The Prince of Wales is greeted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin

Following European Commission’s chief Brexit Michel Bernier's Dail address on Thursday, Deputy Adams stressed that the Good Friday Agreement must not be undermined.

Speaking on The News At One on RTE Radio One, he said: "I listened very intently to what Michel Barnier had to say yesterday and I'm very clear, Sinn Fein's very clear, the Dail and the majority of parties are very clear that what we need is designated special status for the north.

"Mr Barnier made it very clear that there will be a return to special customs and controls, it generally contradicts what the Taoiseach has been saying so far.

"There's a huge challenge in the times ahead and what kind of Ireland is going to emerge post-Brexit?"

He added: "It's about our industries, our commerce, about the Good Friday Agreement, it's about the huge amount o work that has been done at a grassroots level, as well as at a political level in recent years.

"None of that can be allowed to be reversed."

Read More: Tony Blair says Britain-Ireland deal on border best way to limit Brexit damage

Deputy Adams also claimed that people are disillusioned with the government and the justice system here.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier addresses a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad Picture: Maxwells
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier addresses a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad Picture: Maxwells

He said: "The Shane O'Farrell case, the ongoing controversy around the killing of Garda Tony Golden and all the events leading up to and following that.

"There's other cases that I don't want to divulge but there are people out there who are hurting and the Government is not acting as it should on these issues.
"It's moved beyond the commissioner, there's a serious issue of governance which undermines the capability of the Government...

"People are disillusioned, there's a lack of responsibility and accountability in the upper echelons of the state, that's what at the heart of all this."

Online Editors

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