Wednesday, 15 July 2009

REPORT FROM SINN FEIN MEETING IN BRITISH PARLIAMENT

[picture courtesy of Louise Jerfferson]

Sinn Fein re-opens debate on Irish unity in Parliament

Sukant Chandan
Sons of Malcolm
15th July 2009

On the evening of Tuesday 14th July the Grand Committee
Room in Parliament was packed for a public meeting
addressed by Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew MP the Northern
Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, and
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams MP. The meeting sought to
re-open the debate as to how the Irish Diaspora and the
allies of Irish reunification in Britain can support the
process to a united Ireland.

Chair of the meeting Diane Abbott MP welcomed everyone
including some half dozen MPs and the Irish Ambassador.
Diane Abbott talked of how the Irish freedom struggle was a
defining struggle against colonialism, and that this
struggle raised many issues such as the combination of
nationalist and progressive politics, the issue of armed
struggle, the nature of British Imperialism and the
struggle for civil rights.

Michelle Gildernew spoke of how much of an impact the
struggle of Bobby Sands had on her and so many other people
especially through the huger strikes and his election to
Westminster to which Thatcher and the British government
reacted with contempt and criminalisation. Michelle
Gildernew then went on to explain her responsibilities as
Agricultural and Rural Development Minister, and how on
many levels Irish unity is the only sensible option for
farmers in the Six Counties and Twenty-Six counties. One
such example that was given was the foot and mouth outbreak
which as a new minister Ms Gildernew she helped to ensure
that Irish farmers were not effected by the outbreak and
were able to continue their business with mainland Europe,
and all of this only six weeks into her ministerial job.

Gerry Adams explained that the 'new republic' which Sinn
Fein envisages for Ireland is one which is built upon the
principles of the 1916 Easter Uprising proclamation, a new
republic whereby cultural diversity is welcomes and where
there is social, cultural and political justice. Gerry
Adams called for a new relationship between the peoples of
these islands, and suggested that Scotland may very well
see it's independence before Ireland does but "that's all
good". This last comment raised a little concern amongst
some Labour MPs in the meeting; Diane Abbott addressed this
issue by reminding people that Alex Salmond and the SNP
have contributed to breaking down English opposition to the
dissolution of the Union which relates positively to the
Irish question.

Gerry Adams went on to state that the internationally
binding Good Friday Agreement is the peaceful and
legislative means by which Irish unity can be met, but that
this process is far from inevitable while at the same time
it is a realistic goal and something which can be achieved
in this generation with hard work and struggle. Gerry Adams
reminded people that it is up to the people of England,
Wales and Scotland to work out how they could support Irish
unity, and up to the people of Ireland to chart their own
way to this goal and that 'no conditions should be put on a
peoples struggle for freedom'.

In the questions and answers session several people raised
concerns over what will be the ramifications on Irish
solidarity in Britain after the next general election
whereby Labour may lose to the Tories. Gerry Adams replied
that as far as Sinn Fein are concerned, they will do all
that they can to build the movement to this aim and are
experienced in dealing with British governments of whatever
political party at the helm as what British government's
always have in common is that they have all been unionists.

It is the challenge for those who support an end to British
rule in Ireland to chart how we in England, Scotland and
Wales can contribute to building a new progressive
relationship between the nations and peoples of these
islands.

2 comments:

eoin said...

nice article - maybe just maybe but it does not answer what can people actually do?

Sukant Chandan said...

thanks Eoin, it's just a report of the meeting really.

also the meeting is intended to open up the discussion for people based in Egland for themselves to work out what they can do.

I have my ideas, others will have theirs, and something should come out of it all soon enough. SF in London are planning a conference about this issue in Feb 2010, so something should transpire by then.

perhaps I will write what I think should be done around this and directly related issues.