Seek best way to unite Ireland

Derry Sinn Fein chair ANDREW MCCARTNEY has appealed to republicans to return ‘to the family’ and says some people should heed the will of the people after the recent elections.

The last few years have been a challenging time economically, socially and politically. Sinn Féin for its part decided that the only way to tackle the challenges was head on. Our MLA’s Councillors and party activists worked with determination to address the difficulties facing the Foyle constituency. With that in mind our elected representatives organised a number of events to bring the different sectors together with Departmental and funding bodies so that they could each better understand each other and inform themselves of what the local needs are and what assistance is available.

We also brought foreign delegations to the constituency to showcase what the city and region has to offer. Hopefully we will see some results from these initiatives in the not-too-distant future. But either way we will continue in our efforts to address the need to bring jobs to Derry.

We fought the most recent elections on our reputation of working on the ground for the people. Of course the most fundamental aspect of all elections is the verdict of the people, in whom they place their trust and who is their choice to lead them into the future.

Sinn Féin is well aware of the challenges that we face and are strengthened by the support we have received. The next four years the Assembly, the Councils and in the realm of community representation will be the testing grounds on which Sinn Féin will be judged on the pledges we made to the people.

Over the course of the last forty years and beyond, many people have contributed to the republican struggle in a variety of ways to bring us to the place we are at today. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families carry with them every day the great burden that has been placed on their shoulders. Thousands have spent time in prison, many had to endure lives away from home and countless others have given freely and generously of their time. All of this has woven together to ensure that we are as strong today as we undoubtedly are.

In the run-up to the election, conscious that it was taking place on the 30th anniversary of Bobby Sands’s death, Sinn Féin in Derry used his words, “Everyone has their part to play, no part too great, no part too small, as words of inspiration, as words of encouragement.

Hundreds of people involved themselves in the election campaign and on May 5th we had over 500 people involved in that day’s work. Each contribution is as valuable and cherished as the other. Collectively we ensured that over 13,000 people gave their first preferences votes to Sinn Fein with thousands of others giving preferences to our candidates. Each vote valued and cherished as the other.

Those who stood in opposition to Sinn Féin’s political project of uniting Ireland yet again received minimal support and there is an onus on them to reflect on this and listen to the will of the people.

In the course of these decades of struggle many challenges were placed in our way, many decisions had to be made. We acknowledge that these challenges and decisions posed great difficulties and indeed misunderstanding and pain for some people.

As a result some may have felt disconnected from the struggle or that they were no longer part of it. Perhaps there were times when republicans did not reach out to each other or communicate with each other in the spirit required.

However, now is the time for us all to ask of each other the question - how best do we deliver our objective of Uniting Ireland, and what contribution will be required to make it happen?

Today we have representatives on every elective forum on the island consisting of five ministers in the Executive, with two from Derry - Martin and Martina; five MP’s, 29 MLAs, 14 TDs, three Senators, one member of Udaras na Gaeltachta, one MEP and 246 councillors - the only party on the island able to claim such an achievement. In 2011 over 400,000 people across Ireland North, South, East and West voted Sinn Féin.

Our march towards a National Republic continues.

Yet we know Sinn Féin has to become bigger and stronger if we are to achieve our national objectives. Sinn Féin in this city has to grow. In the work which lies before us, many more demands will be made of republican activists and the greater our number, the greater our ability to deliver.

We are ready for that task but we need new members to join the party and just as importantly for others to return to the family and bring to our work, their skills and experience.

Let us all be inspired by Bobby’s words, find our place, play our part, build upon our collective strength and we will achieve our republican objectives.