“I want to thank everyone who helped me during my 35 years as leader of Sinn Féin. Tá mé fíor buioch daoibhse go léir.
“I have been very fortunate to have known many very good people during that time and I am confident that the new leadership of the party – Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill – will help make Sinn Féin even bigger and stronger in the time ahead.
“There are many challenges facing the people of this island. Sinn Féin is the only major party committed to ending the crisis in our health services, in housing and homelessness and in rural communities.
“A united Ireland has to be worked for. Sinn Féin is about bringing the people of this island together in a new Republic, a new Ireland in which the rights of citizens are protected, where poverty is eradicated and where we can all live in peace and unity and equality.
“50 years ago when I joined Sinn Féin it was a banned party. The nationalist people of the North had been abandoned and were subject to discrimination and inequality. We were on our knees. We are now off our knees. We have a Good Friday Agreement.
“It is in some difficulty at this time. But it offers the way forward. There is now a peaceful and democratic path to Irish unity. A way to unite Orange and Green and end division. Everyone who wants a new and agreed Ireland should embrace that.
I believe the future is bright. I believe that we will find a way forward.”
Commenting on the current state of the talks Gerry Adams said:
“It isn’t sorted out as we speak. We have made some progress but there are still considerable obstacles but as I said to our unionist friends this is the last chance agreement. They need to embrace the need for rights for everybody and agree a space where we can all moderate our differences.”