GERRY Adams has made a direct appeal to new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer to use the “heady” first days of his new premiership to deliver on his commitments to Ireland.

In an open letter to the Labour Party leader in this week's Andersonstown News, Mr Adams writes that Tony Blair once told him that he could only have acted positively in relation to the Good Friday Agreement in the early days of his landslide 1997 victory – before other challenges began to distract him. Mr Adams says Labour’s runaway victory in last Thursday’s Westminster election hands the Prime Minister “an opportunity to implement the Good Friday Agreement fully, to repair the damage done by 14 years of Tory rule and to create a better relationship with the people of Ireland”.

The former Sinn Féin President says it’s “unfortunate” that Mr Starmer describes himself as a unionist, but added that the Good Friday Agreement means that his personal constitutional preference cannot play any part in his future dealings in Ireland, North and South.

“It is your union, not ours,” Mr Adams writes. “The Good Friday Agreement has set out the way to end the union if that is what the people decide. You are obliged to uphold this and to uphold the Good Friday Agreement by ensuring that its political, legal, and constitutional guarantees are respected and implemented.  

“As a co-guarantor of the Agreement, the British government must embrace principles of rigorous impartiality, and the right to self-determination and constitutional change toward Irish reunification.”

And Mr Adams said there is a “responsibility” on the Labour government to uphold the commitments it has made to repealing the controversial Legacy Act, which is opposed by all political parties on the island, and to work to undo the damage wrought by the Tory austerity years.

“I note that your government has committed to repealing the Tories’ Legacy Act. There is also a responsibility on you to tackle the serious underfunding of public services in the North as a result of the austerity policies of the Tories and Brexit.”

After new Secretary of State Hilary Benn described the building of Casement Park as “probably the most urgent issue” facing him in his new job, Mr Adams said the new stadium was an opportunity for Prime Minister Starmer to “usher in a new era”.

“You have also committed to assisting the effort to build the Gaelic Games Stadium at Casement Park,” Mr Adams writes. “As a human rights lawyer you may know that Roger Casement, who the stadium is named after, was a champion of human rights.” He continued: “You certainly have the chance to usher in a new era of Anglo-Irish relations based on equality and respect as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mr Adams said Mr Starmer will be judged on “how you accept our right to rule ourselves” and added: “Great progress has been made against all the odds. Let’s finish the process.”

Read Gerry Adams' open letter to Keir Starmer in full on page 20 of this week's Andersonstown News.