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Next election a choice between Fine Gael or Sinn Féin-led Government - Gerry Adams TD

"The next election will be a choice between a Fine Gael-led or Sinn Féin-led Government. It is a choice between two diametrically opposed visions for Irish society." - Adams

There is a need for new political and human relationships based on trust and respect. We may never agree on the past but that must not be allowed to hold back the future.


Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD this morning launched his party’s alternative internship scheme which he says will replace the current government’s JobBridge Scheme if his party is in power after the next election.



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin has been at the forefront of pushing for positive change to transform the delivery of justice on the island of Ireland for over a century.

Our policy development team have developed a very progressive and comprehensive draft set of policy proposals in the Justice area which must now be finalised by giving members the opportunity to participate in its further development.

Over the years, we as Republicans have challenged unjust laws, unjust means and methods of policing, unjust means and methods of investigation and interrogation including torture, unjust courts, the corruption of the trial process, and inhumane prison conditions.

We did this not just for the benefit of political prisoners – but for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Due to the constructive interventions of republicans, fundamental changes in the landscape of Irish justice have taken place – and are continuing to take place.

But our work in this regard is far from done.

People still feel unsafe. People are still vulnerable to crime.

Rural communities are being faced with cuts to policing services based purely on a financial calculation from the Garda Commissioner, rather than local needs.

Everyone has the right to freedom from fear, and this is a challenge the Irish policing and justice systems must meet.

We must have effective policing as one of the mechanisms to combat crime – but we must also not allow that to draw us towards supporting policing strategies that are clearly not republican because they come at the expense of human rights.

There must be more than the sound-bites and gimmicks, more than the reactionary policies we all too often get from Government – they are quick fix solutions that simply won’t work.

If they did work then we wouldn’t have the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour that blight many of our communities.

As I have said, there are no quick fix solutions, this will be a long process and the solutions have to be socially and economically effective.

This approach is what makes us different to other parties.

We do not construct justice, social or economic policy based on knee jerk reaction.

Justice policy must be evidence-based. We must address what causes crime – prevention is better than cure.

We know from our research and international best practise of an evidence-based analysis of justice policy, that one of the main things that will cut crime levels, is ensuring the provision of community, economic development and the elimination of poverty, ensuring education and employment, having a rights-based society where housing, healthcare and equality are not reserved for the privileged few.

These are the things that reduce people’s insecurity and vulnerability to crime – not the populist gimmicks demanded by certain crime columnists.

Very often we see the creation of more laws, and new laws and regimes, so that the Government can be seen to be doing something about crime. They are token gestures.

A few years ago Michael McDowell introduced ASBOs. We said they wouldn’t work and they didn’t.

Justice is a core republican objective and it requires the rule of law – but rule of law must be rights-based and accountable.

Everyone has the right to freedom from fear, and to feel safe and secure in their homes and communities – and for this to happen there must be a more equal society, but while we are on the way to building that society, there is an obligation on the Government to ensure that the policing systems are resourced effectively.

There must be an increase in the proportion of Gardai on operational duty including through civilian support, response times should be quicker, and high visibility patrols must increase.

There must be an increase in greater foot patrols on the ground in communities. These are the things that reduce crime and lead to increased safety in communities.

The recession has been an exceptionally negative thing but there is now an opportunity for the Government to actually look at the solutions that work and what is cost effective.

Short-term measures cost more in the long term, but we have the capacity, as republicans to come up with effective solutions to crime in Ireland.

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Prior to the 2007 Assembly elections Sinn Féin set out a number of objectives around achieving fully democratically accountable policing and justice structures in the North.

Fundamental to those objectives was the transfer of Policing and Justice powers from Westminster to the Assembly and all-Ireland Ministerial Council.

Others said that we would never succeed but as with other seemingly intractable issues, through perseverance, determination and negotiation skills - we once again confounded the naysayers.
In 2007 Alex Maskey, Martina Anderson and Daithi McKay took their places on the Policing Board and since April 2010 the Department of Justice has been in existence within the structures of government in the North. Sinn Fein has been to the fore of holding the Department to account and also shaping policy to bring about a fair and equitable justice system.
But simply because Policing and Justice are now under democratic control does not mean that much more change is required.

Indeed there are many issues which require radical reform and continuing scrutiny.
That is our challenge and that is our work.

Sinn Fein has played a critical role in exposing the lack of leadership and political interference within the Police Ombudsman’s Office. We brought to public attention how this interference was undermining confidence in the vital role this Office plays in accountable policing.

Sinn Fein publicly stated that under the leadership of Al Hutchison public confidence was being severely undermined and that he had no role in bringing that office back to where it needed to be.

Al Hutchison departure removes an critical obstacle to restoring and we welcome the appointment of Michael Maguire. He as the head of Criminal Justice Inspectorate is aware of the task and challenge before him. We pledge our support to make the Office the effective accountability mechanism it has to be.

Our members on the Policing Board have exposed the practice of retiring and rehiring for what it is – an attempt to circumvent normal standards and practices. In the old days this would have went undetected so the efforts of Gerry Kelly Pat Sheehan and Caitriona Ruane and their advisory group should be commended.

We welcome yesterday’s intervention by NIPSA in calling retiring and rehiring as jobs for the boys. The space to make this statement was created by Sinn Fein.

I want to put on record an acknowledgement of great work carried out by our members on the DPPs, we have turned them into the accountability mechanism that they were designed to be.
Their work will continue on the Policing and Community Partnerships. Some want to curtail their role, and fought and shaped them to ensure that accountability was one of their guiding principles.

Sinn Fein at Hillsborough sought and achieved at Hillsborough the need for radical reform of the Prison Service in the North. The Owers Team has outlined the way forward and we will ensure that reforms delivered. Now is the time for the old regime to move aside and the exit scheme for prison warders is freeing the prison system of the old customs and practices which stand in stark contrast of the needs of imprisonment in 2012.

Our work on the Youth Justice Review, the reform of the criminal justice system continues and will help us in providing a fair and equitable system of justice.

This Ard Fheis in motions call for the release of Martin Corey and Marian Price – our position is clear no one should be held on the revocation of a conflict related life sentence.

Under the terms of Weston Park Gerry McGeough should not be in prison.

Our work to promote a fair and equitable justice system will continue, we face many challenges and we meet resistance from those who oppose to change, those unaccustomed or resentful to scrutiny and being accountable - but that is a challenge we will face head on, confident in our ability to deliver and strengthened by the successes of the past year and beyond.

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In the 26 counties 90 people a day are emigrating. Half a million people are unemployed and 170 homes are reposessed over three months.

In the 6 counties £4 billion has been taken out of the block grant and on top of that the welfare system is being decimated.

And all of this is done in the name of austerity without any understanding or care of the devastating consequences for the ordinary people who have to face reduced take-home pay in real terms, higher costs of living, the burden of bank debt and cuts in public spending.

But we’re all in this together, right? Well, not quite.

The financiers, the bankers, the corporate executives, the holders of private equity and hedge funds, those faceless financial gamblers who lie at the root cause of the recession, are living pre-recession lifestyles whilst the rest of us live with austerity as a fact of life.

Granted, since 2008 some tighter financial regulations have been put in place but the necessary reform of economic policies has not happened.

Regulations are still not restrictive enough and reform has fallen far short of what is needed to prevent 2008 from happening again.

The pre-2008 economic system is pretty much still intact.

The financial sector continues to operate largely unregulated - like a casino full of Reckless Gamblers who, like Financial Vampires, are still taking chances with other people’s money, who exploit pension, insurance and savings funds, as well as the profits from genuine labour and business, and are still amassing billions in personal wealth that is stored far from the reach of the public purse.

Banks and Corporations continue to stock pile cash, Top Executives, Bankers and Financiers are still increasing their wealth.

Vodaphone has built a cash surplus of $14.3 billion; BP has built $12.8 billion.

In 2009, bank bonuses were at the same level as that year’s lending to small businesses; and almost 3,000 employees from the City of London, and around 300 employees at the Royal Bank of Scotland and employees at the Anglo Irish Bank, earned more than £1 million each in bonuses.

Added to the difficulties within the financial sector we also face duplication costs by having to pay for two of everything: two health services; two education systems; two transport infrastructures; two administrations.

In the North we are fighting to gain more control over our sovereignty, while the South look ready to hand sovereignty over to Europe.

In both cases, we’re at the mercy of external powers who hold the financial purse strings. In the North, British rule; in the South, EU control.

Despite our limited powers in the North, we have strived to protect people

We rejected the introduction of household water charges;

we froze student fees;

we maintained free travel for Pensioners,

We widened the provisions for Free School Meals and introduced grants for primary school uniforms,

We invested £80 million for disadvantaged communities; and are we will find the same funding for the to assist the most vulnerable in our society and have already allocated and additional 22 million to those on benefits particularily pensioners and those in receipt of cancer treatment.

If Sinn Féin in the north can achieve all of this with such limitations, think of what we could do on an all Ireland basis.

With the sovereignty of our country in our own control, we could decide our own economic and social fate.

We could choose an economic model that would promote greater equality of wealth distribution through increased wages, progressive taxation and investment in businesses to create new jobs and wealth.

This is not some dream for a fantastical utopia. It’s an entirely realisable and practical solution that has been successfully applied already in other places and in other times throughout modern history.

So, let’s work together to put an end to the short-termism of the financial vampires who drain our economy and instead, return to the practical economic measures that will ensure an economic system based on equality and rights and all Ireland solutions in a united Ireland context.

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The Austerity Treaty is bad for Ireland and bad for the European Union.

Its authors have misdiagnosed the cause of the Eurozone crisis and have prescribed the wrong medicine.

Their proposed remedy – more austerity and less democracy – will make the patient even worse.

On May 31st citizens in this state have a clear choice.

If you are for austerity and against democracy vote Yes.

But if you believe, as I do, that austerity has failed, then you must vote No.

If you believe, as I do, that decisions are best taken by democratically elected politicians, then you must vote No.

Article 3 of the Austerity Treaty seeks to impose a harsh structural deficit target of 0.5%. This will mean at least €6 billion more austerity post 2015 – this will mean more taxes on low and middle income people and more cuts to front line services in health, education and community services.

Article 4 of the Treaty requires us to reduce our debt-to-GDP ratio by 1/20th a year from 2018. If the economy does not perform well this could lead to even deeper cuts and higher tax increases in order to reduce the debt.

Article 5 gives significant new powers to the European Commission to impose fiscal and budgetary prescriptions on member states deemed to be in breach of the rules.

Article 9 gives the European Court of Justice the power to impose fines of up to €160 million on states deemed to be in breach of the rules.

And by giving these harsh rules and tough enforcements the force of international law and the protection of our Constitution we are making it almost impossible to change them.

Austerity is not working. It is hurting people, damaging our society and blocking a return to economic growth.

We need a change of direction. We need investment in jobs. We need to stand up for Ireland. We need to vote no on May 31st.

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Sinn Féin’s core objectives of promoting equality and building a united Ireland dictate all my work as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure in the six counties. That is evident through a range of political strategies Sinn Féin is driving in relation to the Irish language, the major capital spend on new sports stadia, and the development of a positive and effective approach to the decade of centenaries now upon us.

Take the Liofa campaign which is increasing the inclusiveness and spreading the cultural richness of the Irish language. I was deeply proud to launch Liofa last September, with a target of generating 2015 fluent Irish speakers in the next three years.

Nine months on, over 1900 have already signed up and the campaign is spreading by the day. People from every walk of life have committed themselves to Liofa: from PSNI officers to GAA members; from DUP politicians to republican ex-prisoners; from those who have lost their fluency, to those who never had it. Young and old; from every background: in every area.

It is a campaign which I have launched throughout the north, and the appetite and enthusiasm for Liofa is inspiring. Mar shampla, tá mé ag foghlaim arís agus ag freastal ar mo rang gaeilge gach seachtain. Ma bhfuil mise abalta é a dhéanamh, thig le gach duine é a dhéanamh!

Those principles of equality and inclusiveness for the Irish language, are also at the heart of the new stadia programme I am directing. Costing over £110m, the three new sports stadia for gaelic, soccer and rugby represent one of the biggest capital projects that the Executive is bringing forward in the current term.

Sinn Féin as a party, and I as a republican activist and Minister of Sport, see the stadia programme as a major responsibility. But it is not just about bricks and mortar, or pounds and pence. It is about people and places, especially the most deprived and objectively needy in the six counties.

I have made it my Ministerial priority to ensure that effective contract clauses and equality policy mechanisms will be built into the development of the three stadia. The purpose of these initiatives will be to target sustainable employment and sustainable apprenticeships at the most objectively needy sectors of society, and at the same time ensure that local deprived communities in the vicinity of the new stadia gain maximum involvement and outcomes through wider social and economic returns.

This isn’t just about building new stadia: it’s about building a future for the most systematically deprived communities in the north. And while we are building that practical future, we also have to build a political future in which equality, inclusiveness, self-determination and respect for difference are at the heart.

That is why Sinn Féin will ensure that the current decade of centenaries into which we face will be commemorated and celebrated on the basis of those core republican values. That means Irish republicans being open to learning, understanding and appreciating the common history of this island in ways that we might never previously have considered.

It means unionists starting to engage with the republican reality that partition and the Orange state was bad for everyone on the island, because it allowed the British connection at Westminster to once more divide Irish people on the basis of a regime of malign apartheid and structured discrimination.

And it means that some politicians in the 26 counties who commemorate major IRA actions of one hundred years ago whilst at the same time facilitating modern illegal wars in the Middle-East through Shannon airport, should catch themselves on and finally accept that modern Irish republicanism – led by Sinn Féin – is truly delivering for the people and for the future.
Go raibh mile maith agaoibh.

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In a few days’ time the people of this state will be asked to vote on a treaty which will bring an extra 8 billion euro in cuts on top of what we have already suffered because of the failure of the previous and current government and the EU itself to rein in casino capitalism.

Only the Irish citizens who happen to live in the 26 counties have the opportunity to express their democratic view on the Austerity Treaty which to quote Chancellor Merkel is “permanent and binding forever”. There are 500 million people in the EU but only the 5 million who happen to be Irish citizens living in this part of Ireland get to have a say! It seems that is democracy EU-style in this day and age.

It is easy to feel powerless as the forces of austerity in this government and across Europe would wish us to feel but there should be hope. The Greek people have said enough is enough and have thrown out the cheerleaders of austerity in their country. The reaction has been predictable- a tidal wave of threats and interference in their democratic procedures. In France, Germany and Italy there has been a swing against austerity-mongers and towards more realistic policies. We can join in this movement and help put a nail in the failed policy of austerity.

What this treaty also does in erode Irish sovereignty in a very real way. It is nearly 100 years ago that the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army took up arms to establish the rights of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland. What they fought for was the right of then Irish people to choose for themselves their own path- the “unfettered control of their own destinies”.

Sinn Fein is committed to fighting to the last day and working with all progressive forces to ensure that this austerity treaty will not damn us to a generation of cuts and a generation of Irish people to forced emigration to keep unemployment figures down.

Fundamentally, and in a very explicit way, this Treaty surrenders Irish sovereignty in return for absolutely nothing. No Irish Republican could support this and nobody who claims to be heirs of James Connolly could accept this.

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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.

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The unification of our island as a sovereign Republic remains at the heart of our project. We are confident that aim is shared by the majority of the Irish people, and we are confident that will achieve that objective.

We are also conscious that we need to act as persuaders for a United Ireland and that is why we are engaged in a wide ranging outreach to people in all sections of our community including within the Unionist community.

That work is ongoing and I would like to pay tribute to the vital role within all of that of Lucilita Breathnach and others.

As part of that work we have organised conferences on a range of issues. Central to that is to demonstrate that the unification of the country is not some esoteric or mystical pursuit but that it is a practical and indeed realistic objective.

Many people indeed, who do not share our republican commitment to achieving unity, are persuaded by the practical aspects of the question.

It is not only ludicrous across so many sectors of Irish life that we have duplicate organisations and networks but it actually costly in terms of lost opportunities. To that end we have already produced research showing the economic and financial benefits of organising the economy and public services on an all Ireland basis.

We need to develop that further and to draw in a wider and wider range of people with expertise in different areas and who can assist in framing the policies and frameworks for best utilising our resources on an All Ireland basis.

We are also of course a campaigning party and a party to whom increasing numbers of our people look to for a lead in their own struggles against the current economic and political order.

And while there are differences between the two jurisdictions there are many areas where mutual co-operation between communities can be most effective in achieving outcomes for those communities.

A current case in point is the campaign to ensure that the gas that lies under several of the border counties in the Lough Allen Basin is not extracted through the process known as fracking. Our party representatives on both sides of the border; in Stormont and in Leinster House and on local authorities have been to the fore on this. We also need of course to highlight the wider issues of ownership and taxation of the gas itself.

All of this and other ley issues must be faced on an All Ireland basis with the practical aim of implementing our policies within a 32 county administration in the not too distant future.

I look forward to listening to the debate.

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Not far from here at Ballyseedy Cross on 6 March 1923, 8 republican prisoners were horrifically killed after being tied to a mine by Free State forces.

The previous day at Knocknagoshel 5 Free State soldiers were killed in an IRA attack.

The day after Ballyseedy 4 more republican prisoners were executed in similar circumstances here in Killarney, and on 12 March, another 5 republican prisoners were again tied to, and killed by a landmine in Cahirciveen by the Free State.

That month in Kerry is a stark reminder of the terrible suffering inflicted throughout our civil war.

However, nothing was done in its aftermath to reconcile the seismic hurts caused.

No reconciliation was put in place in this state to try and heal the human effects of that conflict.

The divisions created became trans generational. They blighted Irish society for 9 decades.

We should learn from our history, and avoid the past repeating itself.

The end to our recent political conflict has given way to peace and political progress.

We are right to be satisfied, but have no right to be complacent.

The war caused huge pain for republicans, unionists, and all our people, north and south.

Sinn Fein recognises that pain and hurt remain to be addressed among our people, and we are committed to developing an authentic reconciliation process to do that.

We believe it is possible to open a new phase in our peace process, facilitating dialogue on how all hurts can be acknowledged, reduced and if possible healed.

There is a political and moral responsibility on us to work collectively and create the best circumstances for our children to grow up in a better Ireland than we did.

We are republicans in the tradition of Tone and McCracken, dedicated to a united Ireland, and unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.

An Ireland at peace with itself is a pre requisite to achieving an Ireland of Equals.

As agents of change we believe the peace process can be powerfully advanced through reconciliation, supported by economic and social rights and opportunities for every citizen.

Republicans have been central to achieving peace. 

We believe now is a time to begin forging new relationships, among and between our diverse communities, north and south; a time to make new friendships; and, a time to begin authoring a new future for our children.

That needs a shared commitment from us all to begin understanding and knowing each other better, based upon our common humanity and increased mutual respect.

In recent months, I and Martin Mc Guinness have publicly encouraged dialogue in which, we listen to each other unconditionally; language is humanised; and, all voices are heard, north and south; republican, unionist, nationalist and loyalist.

Since then citizens from the Protestant and unionist community have welcomed this as a genuine initiative.

A range of Protestant and unionist people have been engaged privately with myself and other Party colleagues to explore our respective concepts, principles and language. They have come from within Protestant churches, loyalism, business, community and civic life.

In those meetings I have outlined our vision of an authentic reconciliation process.

These have been important discussions, and we are inspired by the encouragement expressed for the leadership shown by Sinn Fein.

Our Party wants to build on this challenging work and promote dialogue across all sections of Irish society.

Through listening, persuasion, and a willingness to be persuaded, republicans are pledged to try and heal our divisions.

This evening I particularly urge political unionism to help us develop that dialogue. Unionist leaders have an important contribution to make.

Conversations such as these – no matter how uncomfortable – are key to reconciliation.  

Republicans and unionists must become partners and leaders in reconciliation.

Visionary leadership from all parties is required.

No section of our people has anything to fear from reconciliation, equality and the protection of citizens’ rights.

The prize is greater than any sectional interest. We will all need courage and compassion to bring it about: but the possibilities far outweigh the risks involved.

The peace process has been a transformational journey for us all. Reconciliation and trust are its next phase.

More imagination and compromises will be necessary.

But this is the road to a new republic.

The heavy lifting of the peace process is finished.

 Now is the time for the big thinking to begin, about Ireland’s future, and how we cherish and celebrate all our people and diverse traditions.

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Sinn Féin launches campaign to win Carlow/Kilkenny By-Election


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Mary Lou McDonald TD, Cllr Catherine Seeley & Francie Molloy MP