Working for a united Ireland

(from The Toronto Sun, November 12, 2009)

Canada played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process and now is the time for Canadians to help implement a united Ireland free from British rule, the president of Sinn Fein said yesterday in Toronto.

Gerry Adams -- an Irish Republican politician and Westminster MP for Belfast West -- says Canada and the international community needs to be active in Ireland 's struggle to be a sovereign re-united country.

"I commend Canadians for their work for peace and justice in Ireland . We wouldn't be where we are without that support," Adams told the Sunday Sun yesterday at his hotel room at the Toronto Hilton.

"Irish reunification would address the root causes of conflict in Ireland and establish a basis for a permanent peace settlement.

" He says more Canadians -- such as General John de Chastelain who helped create the Good Friday Agreement, a new power sharing legislature for the North, and Judge Peter Cory, who investigated corrupt British security forces -- are needed for Irish unity.

To make sure Irish unification is more than a dream, Adams says Irish diaspora has to be reached to gain political strength in support of the goals.

"This won't happen because it should or because it is right. It will only happen if we come together," Adams said.

"The British government's claim of jurisdiction over a part of Ireland denies the Irish people of their right to self-determination, freedom and independence ... it's an issue that must be resolved.

"We have studied other struggles for freedom. It was international support that ended the apartheid in South Africa .

" At a forum on Irish unity yesterday at the University of Toronto , Canadians from all walks across the country showed their support for a united Ireland .

Quebec has long supported Irish unity, said Manon Perron , treasurer of the Montreal Council of the Confederation of National Trade Unions. "(In Quebec ) we have a shared political struggle (to the Irish) to shape our own history. My heart goes out to the activists and I bring them a message of solidarity on behalf of my organization," Perron said.

"We will keep the Irish cause alive. Activists in Quebec are working for a united Ireland .

" Canada needs to promote a unified Ireland , because it won't happen by itself, said, Warren Allmand , a former Solicitor General of Canada.

"A united Ireland would have a Charter of Rights that would protect the culture and values of both (Catholic and protestant) communities. The Good Friday Agreement provides for such a charter, but it just needs to be put in place," Allmand said. NDP MP Charlie Angus says Canada will do its part. "So many didn't believe in the peace process. The only way forward is dialogue. We need to promote this process," Angus said.

Marie Osborne of the Emerald Isle Social Club, Toronto says many Irish Canadians still have the right to vote in Ireland and should be casting ballots for Sinn Fein to help the unity cause. "We also need a national committee of Canadian Irish groups to lobby our politicians to work for a united Ireland ," Osborne said.

Sinn Fein historically has been associated with the Provisional IRA.

"The Brits never were able to defeat the IRA (which ended its armed campaign in 2005). The IRA set the stage against British rule and injustice. I pray for the final stage of our struggle," said Patrick Rooney of the Emerald Seniors Society.

" Canada has a duty to defend the just cause of Irish unity. The unionists (those determined to keep ties with Britain ) wouldn't be treated the way they treated the Nationalists (proponents of a united and independent Ireland ).

" CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan was part of an international monitoring delegation in the early 2000s to oversee the disarmament of the IRA and monitor the Orange marching season to record incidents of violence on both sides.

"Sinn Fein has had a dream of a united Ireland since 1922. At this point the Irish are talking about what a united Ireland would look like," Ryan said.

"The British government is firm that there will be no change in Northern Ireland unless there is a democratic vote. When you look down the road the majority of people in the north will be Catholics. There will be a referendum and the majority will win." Former Toronto police chief Bill McCormack, the first Catholic to lead the force, says a unified Ireland is possible and will work.

"Everyone is fed up with the religious bias in Northern Ireland . Many people will be on his (Adam's) side or at least sympathetic to his cause," McCormack said.

"It is unfortunate what the Brits have done and everyone including the Kennedys have tried to step in. Once this generation dies off things will improve."