Speaker sheds light upon issues in Ireland

By Meghan Hurley
September 29, 2006

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights for all those who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend rights of the poor and needy.”

With this Bible verse, Gerry Adams began his talk on the need for peace and a national republic in Ireland. Adams, president of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein party, spoke at the Eastern University Campolo School for Social Change on Saturday Sept. 23.

Adams was there to speak on his involvement in the quest for a peaceful, independent Ireland. After over 30 years of violence, the opposing political parties are finally sitting down to try and resolve some of the issues.

“Ireland belongs to the people that live there. Equality is good for everybody, not just equality for Catholics, or equality for Protestants; its for all,” Adams said.

Adams began with a brief history of the past 30 years of violence in Ireland and moved on to how they are now working for peace. He is seen as a controversial figure for his past alleged involvement with the Irish Republican Army and other activities that have landed him in jail numerous times.

The main focus of his talk as compromise and each side has to give a little in order to meet somewhere in the middle. Through interfaith dialogue and harmony, Adams feels that an agreement can be reached.

“Everyone has different views, and I think that’s ok,” Adams said. “But, with the peace process, we have to be open to have our mind changed. I think Republicans have to do the most because we want the most change.”

Adams also expressed a need for continual U.S. involvement in the peace process. He urged listeners to contact their congressmen and to remain educated about the issues in Ireland.

Adams visit was sponsored a student group at Eastern University called SPEAK. SPEAK is a student organization that pledges to “promote peace through open dialogue and peaceful activism,” according to a press release on Eastern’s website.

Over the summer, some members of SPEAK went on a trip to Northern Ireland to learn about the issues surrounding the conflict there. Adam Beach, a sophomore Middle Eastern studies major, was one of those students and was also in attendance at the talk.

“I was surprised and delighted at how understanding, open and genuinely concerned he is for peace in Northern Ireland,” Beach said.

Maria D’Alessandro, a senior English and communication major, and Dr. Jeff Gingerich, associate professor of sociology, were able to attend the speech by invitation from Eastern.

“I believe that there’s obviously a great divide that needs to be ended. I hope that education, nationally and globally, will aid in resolving this issue. I am hopeful,” D’Alessandro said.

“I was pretty impressed. I think it shows dramatic shifts from where he used to be to now, where the theme is about reconciliation,” Gingerich said.

Also on hand to hear Adams speak was David Porter, the director for the centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland. Both Porter and Adams are working toward the same cause, but from different sides. Porter approaches things from a Protestant point of view.

“I had as much interest what he said and in his analysis as I did in what he didn’t say,” He said. “There are still some unresolved questions, and we do have a reasonable concern for wanting other commitments from the Republican Party.”

In closing, to sum up the purpose of his speech, Adams quoted Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

“‘With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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Meghan Hurley

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