A) Who wrote the text, when, and what was their role? Gerry Adams in October 1994. Gerry Adams is the political leader of the nationalist party Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. B) In what historical context was the text produced? Throughout the twentieth century, Northern Ireland has been divided in its identity and affiliations as a state and nation. There are those who say the entirety of Ireland should be one nation, separate from the sovereignty of Britain. And there are those who believe that even just parts of Ireland should still be loyal to the Crown and Britain. This civil war was also fuelled by sectarian conflict.
Most Catholics were nationalists, and most Protestants were loyalists. On the second half of the twentieth century, paramilitary groups on both sides used a staggering amount of violence against each other, including a bombing attempt on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It was only in the late 1980s that there has been significant progress in the peace process. This included the power sharing treaties such as the Anglo-Irish Agreement on 1985, and the Downing Street Declaration at 1993. At the end of August 1994, the Irish Republican Army announced a ceasefire of its paramilitary actions.
C) What information can be gained from the text? Gerry Adams is of the view that Ireland should be able to exercise self-determination. He is also of the view that the British government is doing more harm than good, by stalling and intervening with the Irish nationalists. He likens the case of Northern Ireland to that of South Africa, where a new structure of government would advance the peace process. Gerry Adams also lists the ways that the British government has tried to intervene in Northern Ireland, specifically how they have all been failures.
The failure of the previous Stormont Government, the B-Specials, and as well as the British government’s failures in upholding their word. He accuses the British government of stalling advances of the peace process. D) What significance did the text have in its own time? (i. e. How was it received, responded to, celebrated or decried? ) What problems may the text pose for the historian? It was both celebrated and criticised. Those of the nationalist mind supported Adam’s speech. But there was also those that were skeptical of not only his speech, but as well as the actions that has taken place in the past few months.
Adams also mentions that complete peace cannot be done overnight, and would involve inclusive dialogue from all parties. His speech reinforces what the conservative nationalists have believed all along. The ceasefire in August 1994, along with the loyalist ceasefire, created some ground in Sinn Fein’s campaign in getting into peace talks. In December 1994, it was announced that Sinn Fein would be included in talks. So this speech was instrumental in determining the goal of Sinn Fein at the time, as well as furthering it into realisation. Those skeptical of the August ceasefire definitely voiced their concerns.
Permanency was the concept that the loyalists wanted. This speech does not even address the issue of permanency. This is a glaring omission in Adams’s speech seeing as it was what the British government was waiting for to advance the peace process on their side. Adams addresses the loyalist response of a ceasefire. Though deeming it as forced and reluctant, he still sees it a step forward and a compromise. What does happen later on, not covered in this speech, is that the IRA announces that it will keeps its weapons unless the British government invites them into peace talks.
The IRA would then say that they were ready to give up its arms later on in December, and that this was fundamental in Sinn Fein’s entry into peace talks. Another thing this speech misses is an accurate view of the British government at the time. Adams’s speech focuses on the future of peace talks and nationalist inclusion. The insight of the British government is very very limited in the address. It would mention the past actions, and indeed failures, of British intervention in North Ireland. He would also say so without giving reasons or details on why they have failed, merely mentioning that they did.
This dismissal of detail would not necessarily be integral in the purpose of his address, but by omitting facts such as these, the speech’s integrity can be compromised and more vulnerable for criticism. Bibliography Adams, G. , 1994, ‘Address by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams 24 October 1994’ Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland, http://www. sinnfein. ie/print/15200, viewed 25 March 2013 Joint Declaration 1993 (Downing St. Declaration) http://www. foreignaffairs. gov. ie/home/index. aspx? id=8734, last updated 28 Jan 2009
Reuter, 1994, ‘IRA vows to keeps its guns until Sunn Fein can join talks’, Toronto Star, London, viewed 27 March 2013, ProQuest DOI 437104235 Schiller B. , 1994, ‘IRA truce triggers joy, and caution U. K. asks: Can ceasefire hold and is it enough? , Toronto Star, London, viewed 27 March 2013, ProQuest DOI 437101608 ‘News Briefing Britain, Sinn Fein and landmark talks’, 1994, The Globe and Mail, London, viewed 26 March 2013, Proquest DOI 385090706 Watt, N. & Webster, P. , 1994, ‘Adams Clarifies Ceasefire Term; Gerry Adams; IRA; Northern Ireland’, The Times, London, viewed 26 March 2013, ProQuest DOI 318187621
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