30 January 2006

McCartney - Time for excuses is over - the time to advance the peace process is now

Sinn Féin

Published: 29 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney speaking at the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry said "Now is the time for all those who are genuinely interested in seeing power sharing in the north and the peace process advanced to show leadership and make a real and genuine effort to end the political vacuum.

"Last year despite all of the short term difficulties and obstacles placed in the way of progress the IRA looked to the future and took the decision to end its armed campaign and deal with the issue of arms. They set out their intent to further their objectives by peaceful means.

"Let us not lose sight of the enormity of what took place and the opportunity that it has opened up. Those who oppose change will hide behind private briefings from Special Branch, which are then passed on to those in the rest home for retired spooks in the IMC. The time for excuses is over.

Republicans have set out our intentions. We have shown our commitment to the peace process by our words and actions. Others need to do the same. "ENDS

Full text

Ar dtus ba mhaith mo chuid bhuiochas a thabhairt do eagarthoiri an rally seo – is mor an onoir domh a bheith a labhairt libh inniu.

Ta muid anseo chun chuimhniu a thabhairt do na ceathair fear is deich a scaoileadh chun bas trocha ceathat bliain o shin.

I consider it a great honour to have been asked to address this Bloody Sunday commemorative rally on behalf of Sinn Fein and I thank the organizers for the opportunity to do so. Mile buiochas agus go raibh maith agaibh.

I acknowledge the presence of Martin Doherty – the only person the British legal system has prosecuted and jailed in relation to Bloody Sunday. Martin, tá failte romhat.

Sunday January 30th 1972, Bloody Sunday, remains for me one of the most seminal days in my life and I know that experience is one shared by many of my generation.

Whatever idealism we had that the Civil Rights Movement could deliver for us - equality of opportunity and citizenship.

Whatever hope we had that those who created and nurtured the Northern state would accede to those demands - ended - as we watched the First Battalion of the parachute regiment charge up this street that fateful day thirty four years ago.

Our hope and idealism collided with the might of the British state and it lay crushed alongside those who were killed and wounded only yards from where we now gather.

The British state and its unionist allies could not contend with giving nationalists and republicans equality – because the Northern state was formed and maintained on inequality and injustice.

Those in power often use the policy of placing blame on those who are without blame - and guilt on those who are without guilt.

They decree that political opposition is unlawful and that its activists are classed as - enemies of the state – and therefore - not true democrats – all neatly packaged within a policy of demonisation and criminalisation.

That is why the march on Bloody Sunday was deemed illegal and banned.

That is why within moments of its’ soldiers killing and wounding unarmed civil rights’ demonstrators the British Information Service informed the world that those killed and wounded were carrying and using arms, that they were high on the Britain’s wanted list for imprisonment.

And even though they inflicted a high cost of human life and suffering – their lies and their plan failed - it failed because the families of those killed, those wounded, and those who survived - vowed that the truth of Bloody Sunday would be told and acknowledged.

So when Lord Saville reports, perhaps later this year, they must keep in their minds one of the great lessons of Bloody Sunday - that if the truth of that day is in anyway suppressed – then the quest for the truth remains as fresh as it was all those years ago.

It is up to them - to place blame on those who are to blame - and to place guilt on those who are guilty.

The men shot dead that day, the men and women wounded that day – were deliberate acts – there is no escape from declaring - that it was murder and attempted murder – no ifs – no buts.

Kay Duddy has already today outlined the families’ expectations of the Inquiry – it is not a wish list but the acknowledgement of proven and tested fact.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the families and the wounded for their dignity, integrity and endurance on what has been a long journey in their campaign for justice and truth.

The standard which’ they have raised, has been a beacon for many others in journeys - also not yet completed.

The theme selected for the weekend’s programme of events was Towards Justice and your example has directed others on the way ahead.

Mark Thompson has outlined how the search for truth and justice for those killed and injured by British state violence continues and we in Sinn Fein will do all we can in assisting that quest.

There will be obstacles in our way but our task is somewhat easier because we have brought an end to the days when those in power believe that we will accept second class citizenship. Those days are gone and they are gone because of the selfless sacrifices made by many people over the course of the last thirty years and beyond.

The cornerstone of the Sinn Fein peace strategy is equality. Equality means change.

Change in our health services, in our education systems, in the way our economy is organized.

Change in how we are policed.

Let there be no mistake - change is required throughout the length and breadth of this island – north, south, east and west.

Sinn Fein will work to bring about that change.

The leadership of political unionism in the north fear change and that is why they refuse to engage with republicans and oppose power sharing . They have run out of excuses, their rationale for not engaging with republicans is thread bare.

Now is the time for all those who are genuinely interested in seeing power sharing in the north and the peace process advanced - to show leadership and make a real and genuine effort to end the political vacuum.

Last year despite all of the short term difficulties and obstacles placed in the way of progress the IRA looked to the future and took the decision to end its armed campaign and deal with the issue of arms. They set out their intent to further their objectives by peaceful means.

Let us not lose sight of the enormity of what took place and the opportunity that it has opened up. Those who oppose change will hide behind private briefings from Special Branch, which are then passed on to those in the rest home for retired spooks in the IMC.

The time for excuses is over.

Now is the time for those in political leadership to do our job.

Republicans have set out our intentions. We have shown our commitment to the peace process by our words and actions. Others need to do the same.

Sinn Féin is determined that the opportunities presented by the IRA initiative are not squandered. There are major challenges ahead and in particular for the British government and the unionist parties.

Republicans have no fear of the challenges ahead and we face the future confident and determined.

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