Fraternal greetings to our friends and comrades from home and abroad and welcome to this year’s Ard Fhéis in beautiful Killarney from Sinn Fein’s Office of Foreign Affairs and our international department.
Tá failte roimhe, Karibu sana, Bienvenido, Ongi Etorri, agus Salaama waku.
I have been given three minutes to impress upon you the vision that drives Sinn Fein’s international agenda. So, I think the best way to do this is to quote from our party’s recent submission to the Government’s White Paper on Development Aid.
“Sinn Fein’s primary goal, in all our dealings with the international community, is to keep Ireland at the heart of global justice.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 states:
The ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedoms and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights.
These are fine words. And Sinn Féin believes that such fine words need to be turned into action – now. States do not confer human rights. Law does not confer human rights. Humanity alone confers the right to freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. But the indivisible relationship between political and civil rights, and economic, social and cultural rights cannot be ignored – and the effective mainstreaming of these human rights must become the thread that runs through all our work in foreign policy.
To that effect, Sinn Fein’s Foreign Affairs Department has been very busy over this past year. We have championed the human rights of peoples from Sri Lanka to Colombia and from Peru to Bahrain and we have actively supported Ireland’s overseas aid programme. I can personally report on the real positive impact of that programme following a visit to Ethiopia last November.
Both nationally and internationally, Sinn Fein’s Foreign Affairs Department has been working to halt the spread of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and to advance the rights of the Palestinian people to a Palestinian state.
This Ard Fhéis again extends solidarity greetings to all of our brothers and sisters across the Arab world, fighting for freedom, justice and democracy. The spirit of the Arab Spring is still burning bright.
Finally, we can never forget our friends and comrades in the Basque Country who have been our staunch allies through all our years of struggle, as we continue to support them to achieve their rightful objectives.
Sinn Féin will continue to address these issues and advance the cause of besieged people wherever we find them. And whenever these people find us.