Belfast Telegraph

Adams makes call for 'free' Ireland

Many people in Ireland are opposed to Britain, the European Union (EU) or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) "ruling" over Irish affairs, Gerry Adams has said.

The Sinn Fein president's comments came in a speech at a south Armagh rally to mark the 30th anniversary of the prison hunger strikes of 1981.

Mr Adams told supporters in Camlough that the protest, which saw ten republicans in the top-security Maze prison starve to death for political status, had helped build the biggest republican movement since partition.

He charted the growth of Sinn Fein but said the party needed to extend its support if it was to secure backing for its goals.

"But there are many people in Ireland who want rid of outsiders ruling us whether from London or the IMF and EU," he said. "They want a free and united and independent Ireland."

The reference to the impact of the Republic's multi-billion euro EU and IMF bailout came in a speech in which the Sinn Fein leader predicted growth for his party.

He plotted its expansion from the prison protest that saw its leader, the IRA's Bobby Sands, elected MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone prior to his death.

"The fact is that Irish republicanism is stronger today than at any time since partition," said Mr Adams. "But to make further advances and to be able to exercise even greater political influence and power, we need to build our struggle."

He said: "Thirty years ago there was an Orange State. The Orange State is gone. The Government of Ireland Act is gone. The right of citizens to opt for a United Ireland is equal to that of those who wish to retain the union."

He added: "There is now an entirely peaceful way to bring an end to British rule. Our duty is to develop democratic ways and means to achieve and to unite behind the leadership and the campaigns which will bring this about."

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