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Northern Ireland politician calls for US to join dialogue

In a public address Wednesday, Gerry Adams, president of Northern Irish political party Sinn F’eacute;in, called for Americans to join a dialogue about peaceful measures to reunify Ireland and denounced the dissident faction of the Irish Republican Army responsible for several recent killings in Northern Ireland.

Adams spoke to about 200 attendees at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a day after meeting with President Barack Obama on St. Patrick’s Day. The idea of a dialogue was inspired by the violent attacks earlier this month, which Adams said brought the first army mortalities to the conflict since the establishment of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord demanding power sharing between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.’

Sinn F’eacute;in has opened the dialogue in the hope to mobilize allies behind its goals, which include securing justice and unity in Ireland and ending British government involvement, Adams said.

As a part of these efforts, Sinn F’eacute;in plans to host conferences this June in New York and San Francisco, and one in Britain the following year, Adams said.

‘There are millions of people who can trace their lineage back to Ireland,’ Adams said. ‘There is considerable good will here in the USA for a united Ireland.’

The members of the dissident IRA faction responsible for the March 9 death of a police officer and March 7 death of two British soldiers are ‘traitors,’ Adams said. Their actions violated Sinn F’eacute;in’s 1998 pledge to a peaceful pursuit of reunification, he said.

‘The vast majority of people are opposed to what happened,’ Adams said.

He said the attacks should not dampen hope.

‘Progress is very slow,’ Adams said. ‘I’m not na’iuml;ve about the difficulties and tedious nature of peace-making. But there is a certainty of hope.

‘ ‘Every big thing that happens starts with a dream. I think we can make this dream come true.’

Harvard freshman Shambhavi Singh said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout of the event.

‘The forum is never this full,’ Singh said. ‘I think it’s awesome that so many people came and showed their respect for him representing what’s sometimes written off as a terrorist group.’

Ellie Reilly, a freshman at Harvard University, said she attended the event because of her Irish heritage and desire to build on her knowledge of Sinn F’eacute;in.

‘My father is very traditional, so I want to get my own perspective,’ she said. ‘I’m glad that Sinn F’eacute;in has more credibility, and I hope that people can see beyond what they might have heard about the killings.’

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