Thousands join united Ireland rally
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams on Saturday called for a
positive mood among republicans as the Provisional IRA
dumps its arms.
The "Rally for Irish Unity" is the latest in a series of
events as part of the IRA's move to end armed struggle,
announced in July.
At a speech to thousands of party supporters in Dublin, the
West Belfast MP again confirmed that the IRA was in the
process of an unprecedented act of decommissioning.
"I believe that the IRA in the near future is going to
honour its commitment to put its weapons beyond use," said
"Such an announcement will have a huge impact on the
political process. I know it will be difficult for many
republicans. There will be some who are concerned about the
future. But I believe that we need to face up to this
opportunity in a positive mood."
Speaking at a rally in Dublin to mark the 100th anniversary
of Sinn Fein`s founding, Mr Adams said the move would be a
huge sea change not just for republicans but for the entire
island of Ireland.
"I don`t think republicans have absorbed what it is about.
I don`t think the media have absorbed what it is about. I
don`t think our opponents have absorbed what it is about,"
"But when the IRA delivers, when our opponents and our
enemies no longer have the IRA to use as an excuse, what
are they going to do? Harking back to the old days is
clearly not an option and I suspect that in their heart of
hearts they know that."
Traffic diversions were put in place in Dublin as thousands
marched in the rally, which began at Parnell Square in
Dublin and culminated in Mr Adams` speech outside the
General Post Office (GPO) in O`Connell Street.
The GPO was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in
the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule.
Mr Adams opened his speech with a reference to Bobby Sands,
the republican who died in 1981 after 66 days on hunger
strike in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland and whose
election as an MP is credited with bringing Sinn Fein into
"In the opening line of the diary he kept during the first
two weeks of his hunger strike, Bobby Sands wrote: 'I am
standing on the threshold of another trembling world'," he
Mr Adams said there was now a great opportunity to achieve
Sinn Fein`s aim of a united Ireland and warned unionists
that the days of second class citizenship for nationalists
"At the same time let no Irish republican or nationalist
underestimate our responsibility to reach out to unionism,
to pro-actively listen to their concerns and to find a
space that they can share with us on the basis of equality.
In calling upon unionists to think beyond the moment, to
think about the future, we are mindful that we need to do
the same." "Some republicans will find it difficult," he
said. "But we need to face the future positively. Let's
Mr Adams said he stood "shoulder to shoulder" with the
families who were recently subject to sectarian harassment.
"And I expect the Irish Government to do the same," he
Staging Saturday's rally outside the GPO was appropriate,
said Mr Adams, as this was where Pádraig Pearse first read
the 1916 Easter Proclamation, which proclaimed the right to
Irish independence from Britain. "The 1916 proclamation is
our mission statement . . . As we leave the GPO let us be
sure that if we keep at it we are going to be the
generation that see the proclamation become a reality."
Sinn Féin's MEP Mary Lou McDonald acted as master of
ceremonies on the stage outside the GPO, introducing the
various musical and theatrical performances. Irish
singer/songwriter Brush Shiels performed renditions of
Dirty Old Town and the Fields of Athenry outside the GPO. A
number of poets and musical acts also performed, including
a young man draped in a blanket who read aloud a letter
written by Bobby Sands during his hunger strike.