As this vitally important general election comes closer I want to make a special and direct appeal to young voters. I know there is a widespread cynicism among the public and among young people, in particular, about standards in public life and deep frustration that the political system does not deal with the everyday cares and concerns of our youth. That includes a failure to provide much needed creative, cultural, sporting and other facilities in our communities often leaving the public house as the only place for socialising.
There is also a deeply worrying epidemic of suicide and self-harm, including drug use among young men across the country which is not unrelated to a sense of despair about the nature of our society and what if offers for the future. Promoting real and radical change and putting an end to the deep inequalities that have left many, many thousands of young people out of the loop of the Celtic Tiger is what Sinn Féin is about. We want you to join us in that work and to contribute to the real movement for change that we are now witnessing on this island.
Many young people are increasingly excluded from things that have long been considered as basic rights. That includes the right to have an affordable roof over your head without having to pay extortionate amounts of money to landlords, banks or mortgage companies or long hours on lengthy and exhausting commutes. You should not be forced to pay prices which are hyped in order to make super profits for already super rich speculators and developers - up to €100,000 in profit is made on the construction and sale of a new home in any part of this State in recent years.
In both the public and private sector the lower paid, including younger workers, take the brunt of cut backs, lay offs and pay cuts. The majority of the 400,000 public servants are routinely blamed for poor service provision even though much higher paid managers and politicians are responsible for mismanagement and incompetence.
As republicans we demand equality and basic rights for all, in education, in health, in accessing proper public transport and in housing. We are committed to neutrality. We are committed to ending the use of Shannon airport by US troops on their way to Iraq.
As republicans we also accept that citizens have responsibilities as well as rights. Responsibilities to our society, to our neighbours, to those less fortunate than ourselves, to the environment and to the millions in poverty and starvation across the developing world. We are appealing to you to join us in the long road to freedom and Irish re-unification, to join in a struggle that has made us a party ready to meet the challenges and fit to lead this country for the years ahead.
I am appealing, in particular, to those eligible to vote for the first time and others who have not used their vote in the past, and those who are thinking of not voting at all to come out on May 24th and make a choice. I am asking you to bring your friends and vote for your local Sinn Féin representative and to join us in a historical movement for real change in this country