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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald has called for urgent intervention to halt the momentum of EU militarization and to protect neutrality.

Ms McDonald said:

Successive EU treaties since the Single European Act in 1987 have corroded independent foreign policy to the point where Irish military neutrality is virtually all we have left.

But Irish neutrality is now under pressure from the accelerating militarisation of the EU, underway in earnest since the first reference to EU military cooperation and Common Defence appeared in the Maastricht Treaty. Subsequent treaties have built incrementally on this. Despite all the denials, an EU Army is evolving, and the Constitutional Treaty under negotiation will bring us measurably closer to this.

The need for intervention to halt the momentum of EU militarisation has never been more urgent. Yet the Irish Government on behalf of a supposedly neutral state has done nothing to oppose these developments, and has done even less to improve its negotiating position for the future in an EU that continues to be even more heavily dominated by NATO states after enlargement.

Worse, the Irish Government has continued to violate its own stated policy of neutrality by allowing Shannon airport to be used as a refuelling base by thousands of US troops on their way to the illegal occupation of Iraq.

Sinn Féin proposes an independent and progressive Irish international relations policy that opposes military alliances and works for international cooperation and conflict negotiation leading to democratic social change and respect for human rights, universal demilitarisation and nuclear disarmament.

Sinn Féin MEPs will strongly promote our policy of "Positive Neutrality in Action", which requires:

  • neutrality to be enshrined in the Irish Constitution and codified in legislation
  • withdrawal from the EU Rapid Reaction Force and NATO's Partnership for Peace
  • Irish troops to train and serve abroad only under the auspices and leadership of the United Nations, and only with prior Dáil approval
  • no use of Irish airports, airspace, seaports, or territorial waters for preparation for war or other armed conflict by foreign powers
  • an end to Irish involvement in the arms trade and profit from war
  • clear recognition and legal protection through a binding Protocol on Irish neutrality in any new EU Treaty, and explicit parity of esteem for the EU neutral states
  • active promotion of demilitarisation of the EU, including nuclear disarmament
  • active promotion of UN primacy, as well as badly needed UN reform

A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote to endorse this approach to international relations and a vote in favour of the demilitarisation of the EU.

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Speaking at the launch of the party's EU manifesto, Sinn Féin EU candidate for the South David Cullinane has called on the Irish government to address the fundamental flaws in the draft EU Constitution in the upcoming talks and not be party to the creation of an EU superstate that will have a negative impact on Ireland and Europe for generations to come."

Mr. Cullinane said:

"Sinn Féin wants to build a Europe of equals -- a true partnership of equal sovereign states, co-operating in social and economic development in Europe and beyond. This vision has little in common with the EU, which Ireland is a member of today. Every EU Treaty since 1973 has transferred power from the Irish people to a political elite in Europe. This has reduced our economic and political sovereignty and undermined our neutrality by increments. Shortly after the election the EU heads of state will again attempt to agree a new treaty establishing for the first time an EU Constitution.

"simplification pointSinn Féin is opposed to the creation of an EU superstate and the proposed draft EU Constitution moves the EU further down this federalist road. It makes fundamental changes in the structures of the EU and gives those structures more powers. It shifts the balance of power yet further from sovereign national parliaments and towards the EU, taking the single biggest step so far in the creation of an EU superstate. It entrenches the inequality of the EU by enhancing the power of the larger states. It also advances the project to turn the EU into a superpower. Sinn Féin is calling for:

  • an explicit recognition of EU member states' right to national sovereignty and self government
  • the primacy of fair trade and the social economy over free trade
  • an explicit recognition of Irish neutrality and parity of esteem for EU neutral states
  • an end to the practice of the EU Council meeting in camera
  • an end to weighted voting and a reintroduction of equality in decision-making between EU partners

We will also push for the domestic changes necessary to redress the democratic deficit here at home

"It is important that the Irish government addresses the fundamental flaws in this draft Constitution and not be party to the creation of an EU superstate that will have a negative impact on Ireland and Europe for generations to come."

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this morning launched the party's manifesto for the EU election and called for people to support Sinn Féin's agenda for change in Ireland and in Europe. The manifesto addresses fundamental issues relating to the future of the EU and sets out Sinn Féin's policies for an Ireland of equals in a Europe of equals.

Mr. Adams said:

"This election will help to determine the future of the EU — and therefore Ireland's future — for many years to come. Sinn Féin's EU manifesto "An Ireland of Equals in a Europe of Equals" is a comprehensive manifesto which deals with four key areas:-

  • the future direction of the European Union
  • promoting peace, economic sovereignty and Irish independence
  • a rights based EU
  • an end to the militarisation of the EU and the role of the EU in the search for global justice

"Sinn Féin stands for change in the EU. We have a vision for an EU that respects the democratic rights of the people of each member state. We want an EU that promotes equality among people and nations. An EU that works for the just and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Europe and beyond. We believe that the enlarged EU must adopt a new set of priorities including the elimination of poverty within its borders and the reform and strengthening of the United Nations to advance justice and peace in the wider world. The changes we want to see happen at EU level are no different from those we are pursuing here in Ireland.

"We also want the EU to become a partnership of equal states. We oppose current attempts to turn the EU into a superstate or a military and economic superpower because we value Irish sovereignty and Irish neutrality. We know that the EU reflects the political agenda of the big States, the unelected Eurocracy, and big business. But it can be changed, and it should be changed.

In keeping with our agenda for change, Sinn Féin's priority is to:

  • work for a reformed EU that gives power back to the people
  • promote Irish sovereignty, democracy and neutrality
  • advance all Ireland approaches to economic and social issues with the active assistance of the EU
  • seek new priorities for EU policy including the elimination of poverty and support for public services
  • ensure that all EU law and policy respects and promotes equality and human rights
  • the Irish language to be recognised as an official and working language in the EU
  • build political alliances with like-minded parties and civil society in Ireland and across the EU to advance these goals

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Sinn Feín EU candidate for the Dublin constituency Mary Lou McDonald has this evening expressed her concerns regarding the forthcoming Citizenship Referendum. Ms McDonald argued that the "Citizenship Referendum would enshrine inequality within the Constitution".

Ms McDonald made her comments before her attendance at the launch debate of the Smurfit Debating Society in UCD, attended by representatives of the other main political parties this evening at 7.00pm.

Speaking this evening Ms McDonald said:

"I look forward to this evenings debate on the forthcoming Citizenship Referendum, to put forward the Sinn Féin view on the issue. We are calling upon people to reject Justice Minister McDowell‚s racist referendum on June 11th. His justification for the referendum does not stand up to scrutiny ˆ he has not provided any concrete evidence for his claims. His statistics do not prove his case.

"This proposal will enshrine inequality and race-based citizenship into the constitution. Sinn Féin is concerned that the proposal also undermines the Good Friday Agreement and jeopardises the peace process.

"The Citizenship Referendum moves us away from the tradition of citizenship by birth shared with over 40 other democracies including the US and Canada, and towards race-based or bloodline-based citizenship, which is offensive to the republican principles of equality.

"Sinn Féin wants a comprehensive immigration policy that is positive, compassionate, human rights-compliant and anti-racist. That policy must fully recognise the positive contribution of immigrants to Irish society and to the Irish economy."ENDS

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Speaking in advance of Sinn Féin's Private Members' motion tomorrow on the Government's failure regarding Rural Development commitments, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Rural Affairs Martin Ferris TD said that the lack of balance in regional development in Ireland was something which the people of the West had been highlighting for a long time and that they were justifiably "embittered and angry" at the lack of adequate services in the area.

Deputy Ferris said:

"What was promised by this Government for Rural Development has not even begun to materialise. Is it any wonder people in the West of Ireland are embittered and angry at the way their needs are ignored? All that is being asked for is an equal level of provision of services for residents of this area.

"The West is an area of great potential and to see it being depleted by population decrease due to lack of services for communities is a national crisis and something that this Government cannot continue to turn its back on or it will pay the ultimate price when people realise they cannot rely on the right-wing PD-dominated coalition to deliver for sustainable rural communities in the future. The Government have failed to generate real regional development through the National Spatial Strategy or to encourage sufficient investment to compensate for losses in the Agricultural sector in an area where there is already unemployment of a much higher level than the national average in places like Kerry and Donegal. Everyone, no matter where they live, is entitled to equal access to and quality of public services." ENDS

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Sinn Féin EU candidate for the North West, Pearse Doherty, has contrasted the manner in which the banks treat their farmer customers to the growing evidence of internal malpractise. Mr. Doherty was speaking as yet more evidence emerged regarding the manner in which AIB in particular, have been allowed to operate over the past number of years.

 

Mr. Doherty was speaking before a two day Rural Development Conference which is taking place in Westport, Co. Mayo (31st May - June 1st):

 

"There are tens of thousands of farming households throughout this state who are massively in debt. Last year farmers owed €1.1 billion. Many of them are finding it extremely difficult to survive in these circumstances. Many of them also find that they are treated with little understanding by the banks and this stands in sharp contrast to the kind of practices which we have seen are tolerated among the golden circle of banking in this country.

 

"It is time that the state intervened to ensure that the banks are made more sensitive to the problems of their ordinary customers including farmers. They must also be made to tailor their lending practices to ensure that the chief aim is productive investment rather than the banks' own obsession with maximizing their already massive profits."ENDS

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Sinn Féin EU candidate for the Six Counties Bairbre de Brún has called on the EU to lead by example on protection from discrimination and the promotion of equality. Ms de Brún said:

"The European Union is still a very unequal place, where women are grossly underrepresented in decision-making, where people with disabilities are regularly denied full access to education, services and jobs, and where some member state governments still believe it is acceptable to discriminate against people based on their national origin, religion, sexual orientation, family status or age.

"Sinn Féin believes that the achievement of full equality of all people within the EU regardless of gender, ethnic origin (including nomadic status), national origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious or political belief, family status, socio-economic status or age, must become a higher priority objective of EU policy.

"The EU must lead by example on protection from discrimination and the promotion of equality.

"Sinn Féin MEPs will make campaigning for equality a priority here at home and in Strasbourg and Brussels. We will work for: the introduction of a mechanism for equality-proofing all EU law and policy; levelling-up of equality rights protections throughout the EU; the introduction of more comprehensive EU anti-discrimination legislation with similar scope to the Racial Equality Directive, including new comprehensive Gender, Disability and Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual Equality Directives

"Sinn Féin is committed to creating an Ireland of equals in a Europe of equals. Only by tacking strong measures at an EU level and complementing that with local action can we begin to seriously tackle the negative effects of inequality and discrimination on many people across society."ENDS

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Sinn Féin will launch its manifesto for the European election campaign tomorrow, Tuesday 1st June at 10.30am in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

Attending the press conference will be Gerry Adams MP, EU candidate for Dublin - Mary Lou McDonald and EU candidate for the South - David Cullinane.

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Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast Michael Ferguson has hit out at those responsible for leaving an explosive device outside the offices of Community Restorative Justice in Andersonstown last night.

Mr Ferguson said:

" At around 3am last night an explosive device was left outside the offices of the Community Restorative Justice programme in Slemish Way. The area was evacuated and much disruption was caused to the local community.

" At this stage we are not yet sure of the motives of those behind this attack. However what I can say is that people locally are angry at this incident. CRJ provide a crucial mediation role within this community and this attack is being viewed as an attack on the wider community in this part of West Belfast.

" I would call on those responsible for this attack to come to their senses and get off the backs of the community. This sort of attack will not prevent people organising community projects and coming together to work for the benefit of the entire West Belfast community." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called on people to vote No in the Citizenship Referendum on June 11th. Mr Adams said that if this referendum is passed it will "create a completely unequal society for future generations".

Mr Adams said:

"Sinn Féin wants a comprehensive immigration policy that is positive, compassionate, human rights-compliant and anti-racist. That policy must fully recognise the positive contribution of immigrants to Irish society and to the Irish economy.

"The sole reason for the Government running the referendum on this day is to deflect attention away from their miserable performance since coming into power. But look at what their selfishness will do. Irish children will be stripped of their rights, purely because of where their parents come from.

"Michael McDowell has not provided any concrete evidence for his claims. His statistics do not prove his case. In quoting figures for non-nationals giving birth in Irish hospitals the Minister is including many people from inside and outside the EU who are quite legally entitled to be here. We know the Minister believes in an unequal society but this referendum has racist undercurrents to it as well. He cannot be allowed to abuse the position of power the Irish people have given him, by pushing his own personal agenda.

"The Government has also tried to peddle the line that passing this referendum will make our citizenship laws similar to other countries. That is downright rubbish. 40 other countries share the citizenship laws we have now. If an Irish person has a child in America, that child will be an American citizen.

"This referendum will have serious implications for the Good Friday Agreement. Anti-Peace Process elements have already seized upon it as an example of how the Agreement can be tampered with. Is Michael McDowell trying to destroy the Good Friday Agreement?

"The Government is trying to feed into the misconceptions and the genuine concerns about immigration that do exist in our society. The referendum is an insult to the Irish people, and is an example, once again, of this coalition pushing through serious legislation, without engaging in any sort of debate first.

"This referendum makes a joke of our claim to be Ireland of the welcomes. If it‚s passed, we will be creating a completely unequal society for future generations."ENDS

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The Mayor of Armagh City, Councillor Pat O'Rawe MLA, paid an extended visit to County Wexford over the weekend where she performed a very busy schedule.

Cllr O'Rawe the first female Assembly member in her constituency and the first ever Sinn Féin Mayor of Armagh met with a wide variety of local community groups in Wexford, Rosslare, Gorey, Enniscorthy and New Ross. She also joined the local election candidate trail in Gorey and Enniscorthy, and launched the new Sinn Féin manifesto: 'Women in an Ireland of Equals' in New Ross before attending a party function in Hotel Curracloe on Saturday night.

Speaking at the launch of the womens manifesto in New Ross on Saturday accompanied by local Sinn Féin election candidates, Sandra Ryan (Gorey), Noreen Sheridan (Enniscorthy) and Bernie Murphy (New Ross) Cllr O'Rawe said:

"As a party striving towards an Ireland of Equals, Sinn Féin fully supports the Equality Agenda and its implementation throughout society. Central to this is the need for gender balance, gender proofing and gender equality in the decision making process.

"Sinn Féin is committed to the establishment of targets and timescales for achieving equality of representation for women in public life, and equality of outcome in employment, education and training. We believe that gender proofing in appointments, policies and resource allocation must be obligatory for all public bodies.

"A culture of change is required throughout society to ensure that there is better representation and better working practices for women in politics. It is crucial that we all play a part in creating changes to the political systems to encourage more family friendly practices.

"Sinn Fein will work with all those committed to promoting equality at all levels of society and we bring the same commitment to change to our own party. This is a real issue for Sinn Féin in terms of our policies, the issues that we campaign on and the candidates that we put forward for election. Indeed in these elections we are presently standing the largest number of women candidates ever in winnable seats and the issue of equality is central to our entire campaign."ENDS

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A Sinn Féin local election candidate in Dublin's Inner City Centre, Ciarán Mac Annraoi has asked Fianna Fáil if the Justice and Equality Minister, Michael McDowell, spoke for them when he told the Irish Catholic newspaper last week that inequality is good for people and an incentive in the Irish economy.

Ciarán Mac Annraoi, a challenger for Mayor Royston Brady's council seat and the running mate of Councillor Christy Burke, said:

"Dublin's Inner City has suffered disproportionately over many decades from neglect and inequality.  Now we have the Fianna Fáil/PD Coalition's Equality Minister effectively saying, 'Inequality is good for you.'

"We expect this sort of Thatcherite clap-trap from the PDs, but is Michael McDowell speaking for his Fianna Fáil Coalition partners and its candidates as well?  I think the voters should be told."ENDS

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Sinn Féin MLA and EU candidate for the Six Counties Bairbre de Brún has called for EU wide action to tackle homelessness and this must include targets and timeframes for the elimination of homelessness. Ms de Brún said:

"People have the right to live free of poverty. As an organised bloc of some of the wealthiest states in the world, the EU has the resources to guarantee this fundamental socio-economic right at least to its own population. Basic social and economic rights must be guaranteed for all. This includes the right to a home.

"Unfortunately this right is not being accorded to all. Levels of homelessness are rising in many EU countries, including Ireland. Serious action needs to be taken at an EU wide level to combat homelessness.

"There is a need for member states to agree an EU wide target and timeframe for the elimination of homelessness.

"This requires adequate provision of social and affordable private housing. However tackling homelessness also requires addressing people‚s capacity; providing employment opportunities and combating financial exclusion. Eradicating poverty and social exclusion will not happen without concerted action on homelessness."ENDS

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Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Séan Crowe will join party colleagues Mary Lou McDonald, Daithí Doolan and Eoin O Sé on Monday 31st May to canvas the Westmoreland Street - Dame Street area for a NO vote in the citizenship referendum. They will begin the canvas at 9.15am outside the Bank of Ireland on College Green.

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and party colleagues North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty and Pat Doherty MP will be on opposing sides for the Ulster football championship clash between Antrim and Donegal in Ballybofey on Sunday 30th May.

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Speaking today about the naming of people allegedly involved in the latest AIB scandal, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: "Naming the alleged culprits is not enough. If there is evidence of wrong-doing, arrests should be made". Mr. Adams said:

In keeping with the Tanaiste's remarks yesterday about naming and shaming people involved in the latest AIB scandal, the Government's response to this breach of tax law has been totally inadequate. Naming the alleged culprits is not enough. If there is evidence of wrong-doing, arrests should be made.

This option has rarely been exercised against those in banking or other financial institutions, or for that matter, politics, the judicary, developers or other people in certain sectors who bring their own professions into disrepute by their involvement in white collar crime. Apparently this little golden circle is above the law.

Little wonder that there is increasing disillusionment with politicans and institutions. There are two laws. One for the rich and another for the rest of us.

Is this what Minister McDowell meant when he said inequality is an incentive for the economy?"ENDS

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East Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Joe O'Donnell has said that he hopes that today's statement from the LVF will mark an end not just to the ongoing loyalist feud but to all unionist paramilitary violence. Cllr. O'Donnell said:

"Obviously if this statement does mark the end of the latest loyalist feud then that is to be welcomed. East Belfast has been on a knife-edge for the past two weeks. However in the past loyalist feuds have ended with attacks on nationalists and Catholics. I hope that this pattern will not be repeated on this occasion.

"Now that this feud is over all of us in political and community leadership in the city need to get back to the job of ensuring a peaceful summer for families living in interface areas. There is no point in ending one type of violent unionist activity to see it replaced by another." ENDS

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Ógra Shinn Féin were in Temple Bar today at 12 noon using political street theatre to highlight the massive inequalities in the Irish health service. One of the youngest candidates standing in the Dublin City Council area, Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Sé (23) said that the theatre was a success with the public, who "know only too well how much of a state the health service is in"

Mr Ó Sé said: „The street theatre was something different, and went down well with the shoppers and workers in the vicinity. These people know only too well what state the health service is in.

"Ógra Shinn Féin is concerned, and rightly so, that the Government is avoiding the health issue in the run up to these elections. It has been all but forgotten by candidates who are more interested in electoral success, than what the voters actually want. The health issue is the biggest issue in the country at the moment. Everything else pales in comparison to not having a good health service and the public are screaming that at politicians. They might as well be talking to the wall.

"This Government has failed us. They haven‚t fulfilled the promises they made in 2002 and the Hanly Report only makes a bad situation worse.

"We, as young people, don‚t want to inherit this health mess, so we will keep raising the health issue, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it is for Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats."ENDS

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Sinn Féin EU candidate for the South constituency David Cullinane has called on the Irish Presidency to "use its considerable influence to help combat poverty within the European Union." Mr Cullinane made his remarks on the eve of a meeting to discuss poverty within EU member states.

The event, entitled: "Meeting of people from EU countries experiencing poverty" will take place tomorrow in Brussels (29.05.04).

Speaking in advance of the conference, Mr Cullinane said:

"The European Union needs to face up to the challenges that an enlarged union inevitably brings. Now, more than 65 million people live in poverty within the 25 member states. The Irish Presidency had the opportunity to prioritise the eradication of poverty and it has failed miserably.

"In the EU, the richest 20% of the population receive five times the total income of the bottom 20% - the present situation is unacceptable. Over the last number of years, the EU has increasingly prioritised an agenda focused upon economic growth and competitiveness. It has also become obsessed with militarism and the need to arm itself to the teeth with sophisticated weaponry. It would cost 100 billion euro to cut global poverty in half by 2015, yet the EU spends approximately 800 billion every year on military initiatives.

"Sinn Féin believes that as a matter of urgency, the European Union, under the stewardship of the EU Presidency must fight for agreement of EU wide targets and timeframes for poverty reduction and elimination. Protection for the most vulnerable in society must become a priority of the EU."ENDS

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