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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’s European Election candidate for Ireland-South Liadh Ní Riada has called on the government to ensure that powerlines, to be built as part of the EirGrid pylon network, are undergrounded.
Ms. Ní Riada said:
“We have been made aware that one of the options for connecting Great Island to Dunstown in Kildare is through counties Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow.
“The EirGrid map shows that this corridor passes through beautifully scenic areas such as the Wicklow Way.
“Sinn Féin cannot support the failure of EirGrid to the concerns of local residents opposed to the construction of overhead interconnectors. If this option is chosen, the network could cause considerable harm in counties Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow.
“There will be a negative impact on the countryside, wildlife and tourism. Our landscape and built heritage will come under threat and there are very real concerns about the potential devaluation of farm land and residential property.
“We are calling on the Government to direct EirGrid to proceed with this project only on the basis that it will be undergrounded. The communities must have their voices heard.
“This was one of their pre-election commitments. They should honour it. Undergrounding is sensible and sustainable alternative.”

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The Dáil will this evening begin a debate on a Sinn Féin sponsored Private Members’ Motion calling for a Youth Guarantee that provides all young people with a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed.

The motion calls for an investment of €400m for this purpose as recommended by National Youth Council of Ireland and International Labour Organisation funding model.

Speaking today ahead of the debate Sinn Féin Jobs spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien said:

“Our young people want to work, live and contribute to Irish Society. However the government has failed to provide opportunities and many young people face the choice of emigration or the dole. In the meantime benefits for the young unemployed have been cut.

“Youth employment must be a priority for this government. The creation of Youth employment must be fully funded. The government has allocated a paltry €14million for the youth guarantee. This is completely inadequate.

“The government needs to stop using emigration as a safety valve for its unemployment problem. We are losing a whole generation, the very people we need to rebuild our economy.

“I am urging the government to recognise the scale the youth unemployment problem and to accept Sinn Féin’s motion this evening.”

ENDS


DÁIL ÉIREANN

Fógra Tairisceana : Notice of Motion

GNÓ COMHALTAÍ PRÍOBHÁIDEACHA
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS

“That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:

our young people want to work and contribute but are starved of the opportunity of quality employment;

64,700 young people are officially unemployed;

the unemployment rate for persons aged under 25 is almost 30 per cent;

many thousands more are not in employment, training or education but not captured in the official statistics;

the number of young people in employment has fallen by 18,000 since Fine Gael and the Labour Party took office;

since 2010, 105,000 young people have emigrated;

under this Government the rate of overall emigration and net outward migration has increased;

Budget 2014 only provides an additional €14 million for the Youth Guarantee Scheme; and

according to the National Youth Council of Ireland, Budget 2014 will, at best, provide 3,250 new labour activation places for persons aged under 25; and
calls on the Government to:

adequately fund a Youth Guarantee Scheme that provides all young people with a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed;

allocate €400 million for this purpose, as recommended by the National Youth Council of Ireland and the International Labour Organisation funding model;

make youth employment a key priority and theme for the Action Plan for Jobs 2014;

set annual targets for youth employment and reduction in emigration; and

reverse the cuts to the basic rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance for persons aged under 26 that were introduced in Budget 2014.” — Jonathan O'Brien, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sandra McLellan, Brian Stanley.


[15 November, 2013]

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Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD has this morning sought a Dáil debate on the escalating crisis in the ESB due to management’s unilateral decision to shift all the company’s pension liabilities onto its workers with the resulting threat of industrial action.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“In June of this year officials from the Departments of Social Protection, Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Communications Energy and Natural Resources met with ESB management and unions to discuss the crisis in the pension fund. Despite department officials promising a process of dialogue not a single meeting has taken place since despite efforts by the ESB Group of Unions.

“There is a very simple truth at the core of the pension’s crises in the ESB. From 2011 management unilaterally decided to treat the workers Defined Benefit scheme as a Defined Contribution scheme for accounting purposes. Leaked management emails in the public domain reaffirm this.

“By taking this unilateral action management transferred all of the liability of the scheme to the workers, which coupled with changes to pension funding standards could potentially wipe out entitlements on retirement. This is a bad situation for any worker but the severity of situation is worsened for ESB workers as the majority of them are not entitled to a state pension.

“The bottom line is government could have averted the prospect of industrial action if it had delivered on its commitment to oversee a process of dialogue. Government signs off on the ESB’s annual accounts and is the primary stakeholder of the company. To date government Ministers have stuck their head in the sand and refused to engage on the escalating crisis. It’s time now for government to step up and step in.”

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Commenting on the revelations of huge top-ups, in addition to very high salaries, for CEOs of hospitals and of HSE-funded voluntary bodies in the Health sector, Sinn Fein Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:

“These revelations show that there is still a persistent culture of privilege at the top of the HSE and at the top of some HSE-funded bodies. We actually have more HSE top executives on salaries of over €100,000 per annum this year than we did last year. This sets the headline that others in voluntary bodies, including some hospitals, are clearly following.

“It is appalling to see some hospital CEOs and those in HSE-funded voluntary bodies in the health area receiving massive top-ups in addition to already very high salaries. And this at a time when these hospitals and other bodies are struggling due to government cutbacks.

“Whatever additional revenue that hospitals and other voluntary HSE-funded bodies are able to raise should go into their services and not into a honey pot for top executives.

“The Tánaiste has said public service pay guidelines must be adhered to. But what leadership has he and his colleagues given? They have breached guidelines in the pay they award their own special advisors.

“The pity is that these revelations will now be used by government to justify cutbacks to health services in the 2014 HSE Service Plan soon to be published.”

ENDS

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The Sinn Féin EU candidate for the Midlands North West constituency, Matt Carthy, is to host an information night in Drogheda on the issue of mortgage debt and distress.

The event will be held on Thursday 28 November at 8pm in the Boyne Valley Hotel, Drogheda.

Announcing the event Councillor Carthy said:

“There are 180,000 households across this state in mortgage distress. People are at their wits end trying to cope with the pressure of debt and negative equity.

“It is a legacy of Fianna Fáil’s developer-led policies and the current government’s failure to act on the issue that so many families are struggling just to hold onto their home.

“This information night will hear from experts in the field of mortgage distress and debt including representatives from New Beginning, The Irish Mortgage Holders Association, Moneybloom Drogheda and the Mortgage Advice and Budgeing Services (MABS).

“These experts will be on hand to answer questions and give advice on issues related to mortgage debt.

“The night will also hear from the Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD who will outline his alternative solutions to the mortgage and housing crisis.

“Sinn Féin is calling for a FAIR approach to dealing with mortgage distress – one that

puts the Family home first, Adjudicates on an Independent basis and brings about Resolutions that can involve write-downs among other options – on a case by case basis.

“It is time for a fair deal for struggling homeowners. Come along to this event and make your voice heard.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, today said that the announcement by the office of the Minister of Justice, Alan Shatter TD, of a supplementary budget for the justice department, is a clear indication that the Minister is not on top of the management of his department.

The Donegal North-East TD said:

“Minister Shatter is clearly not on top of his budget and the management of his department.

“There have been various reports which reveal that there was correspondence from An Garda Síochána to the department of justice stating that they needed more money.

“It is very worrying that budget shortages have resulted in some specialist units and operations being put temporarily on hold in order to avoid additional costs, such as overtime.

“The consideration by garda management and senior civil servants of encouraging members to take career breaks for a few years and the dependence on retirements of senior members is a bad way to do business.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has slammed those behind a deliberate agenda to lower nationalist and republican expectations when it comes to Irish unity.

Responding to comments made by Mairead Corrigan in today’s Irish News Mr McElduff said:

“It is becoming ever more apparent of the emergence of a very deliberate agenda to lower nationalist and republican expectations when it comes to achieving a united Ireland. This agenda has been readily facilitated by some sections of the media. They will not succeed.

“An increasing number of people see that politics has been transformed on this island and that a united Ireland is not just desirable but a realistic option.

“In the last election Sinn Féin were the main proponents of the benefits of a united Ireland and we were the only party to increase their share of the vote.

“Mairead Corrigan has never espoused a united Ireland. There is no difference in her position now than that of 40 years ago when she had a public profile. 

“However if Ms Corrigan had traveled to Strabane or Lifford in the past fortnight it would be very apparent to her that there is a strong appetite for a united Ireland. There were numerous events attended by over a thousand people aimed at promoting and widening the debate on the need for a Border Poll.

“The clearest answer to Mairead Corrigan and others of similar views is, let the people have their say. Whatever opinion people take in this debate let us have the discussion around these vital issues and then let us have a Border Poll which is provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.”

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 Arts Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín is raising awareness of the ChildLine helpline across the culture, arts and leisure sector.

The Minister, in partnership with the NSPCC, is encouraging all organisations that work with young people to promote the ChildLine Number - 0800 1111, across the north of Ireland.

 Minister Ní Chuilín said: “I am very pleased to be able to promote ChildLine across the culture, arts and leisure sectors. Child protection across these sectors is very important. I would like to see every child participating in these activities to have access to the ChildLine number 0800 1111 where they can get additional help and support for any issue that’s worrying them. Organisations can simply do this by displaying the ChildLine logo on their website, putting up posters or distributing ChildLine information cards.

 “It is the duty of every organisation working in this sector to put in place safeguards to protect the children they are working with to establish a culture of safety to ensure young people’s voices are heard. It is also vital that young people know that they can seek help from ChildLine.”

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure will work with organisations in the sector who engage with young people and applying for government funding to develop and implement safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure that everyone knows and accepts their responsibility in relation to safeguarding children.

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Sinn Féin MLA for South Down Caitríona Ruane said that there needs to be greater transparency and openness within the system of political donations.

This follows the amendment to the Miscellaneous Provisions Bill by the Alliance party that will allow any donation to a political party under the significant sum of £7,500 to be kept secret.

Sinn Féin MLA for South Down said:

“While any move towards openness in the political system is welcome, ensuring that donations to political parties of over £7,500 will eventually be published does not allow for an adequate level of scrutiny and transparency in the political system. This can only be claimed as a hollow victory.

“In the Sinn Féin submission to the review into legislation governing donations, we called for an end to the practice of keeping the identity of donors secret and that the threshold for reporting donations be lowered to £750.

“These were rejected by the British Secretary of State after lobbying from other political parties. I think the public would be very interested to hear Naomi Long’s position on dropping the threshold to £750.

 “Vested interests being allowed to secretly contribute £7,500 to a political party does a disservice to politics in general. It is a practice that needs to be brought to an end.

“Justifiable public cynicism is generated when it is perceived that political parties are not being open and transparent about their financial affairs.

“Sinn Féin and those who vote for us expect the highest standards from all of our public representatives and we will continue to act in an open and transparent manner with regards to our financial affairs. We would encourage the other parties to do likewise.”


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Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has described the announcement by Eircom that it is to cut 830 jobs as further proof that privatising strategic state assets is bad news for the domestic economy.

The announcement forms part of a wider plan by the telecommunications operator to shed 2,000 jobs by next summer.

The Dublin Central TD said;

“Eircom’s announcement provides further evidence that privatising strategic state assets simply doesn’t work. The loss of 2,000 jobs is bad news in itself, but this announcement is set against this government’s, and the last’s, woeful record on broadband delivery.

“Eircom’s announcement must give pause to Labour and Fine Gael’s plans to privatise state assets, particularly those in the energy sector.

“Government Ministers need to ask themselves if privatising Eircom has delivered for the citizens of this state. Under-development of the broadband network, when compared with other EU countries and particularly for businesses based in rural Ireland, remains a perennial problem.

“Ireland is a small open economy and the notion that government and policy makers can abandon appropriate development of critical infrastructure to the market is quite frankly nonsense.

“Just last week Minister Rabbitte told the Seanad he stood over the government’s decision to sell off Bord Gáis Energy.

“Let’s not forget that real concerns also remain regarding government’s long term intentions for Irish Water, which could see a massive transfer of state property including treatment plants and water infrastructure to private interests.

“The Troika may be leaving but it is clear its mind-set remains amongst the government benches. Selling off the family silver to plug the hole of bad banking debt makes no sense. Privatising strategic state assets makes no sense.

“The government needs to ensure that the policies it pursues promote investment in strategic and critical infrastructure, not undermine it. Lessons must be learnt from past mistakes.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn has reiterated his party’s call for sentencing guidelines for judges after a man caught with 7,000 child pornography images was allowed to walk free after being given a suspended sentence last week.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said;

“When people see sex offenders walk free after being convicted there is genuine anger and rightly so. People demand answers. They want to know why someone who was caught with 7,000 child pornography images is not given a custodial sentence while others convicted of less serious crimes are regularly jailed.

“That is why my party has been calling for the establishment of a sentencing council that would issue guidelines for judges.

“We don’t believe in mandatory sentencing because we know that they are not a deterrent to perpetrators and that each and every case has its own circumstances.

“However, we do believe that sentences need to reflect the seriousness of the crime committed.

“We need a sentencing council and new sentencing guidelines for the judiciary to ensure accountability and consistency in sentencing, particularly for violent crimes and sexual assaults.

“We cannot continue with a system that allows convicted sex offenders to walk free as we seen once again last week.”

ENDS

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The Sinn Féin delegation to the Haass Talks, Gerry Kelly, Jennifer McCann, Mitchel McLaughlin and Sean Murray this morning (18 November) published the three party submissions presented to the process to date.

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Sinn Féin Senator and Seanad leader, David Cullinane, has today criticised Senator Rónán Mullen for his berating of Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly for her absence from the Seanad for a vote on the issue of pylons tabled by Senator Mullan, despite this being due to bereavement.  

Senator Cullinane said:

“Kathryn Reilly was absent from the Seanad for a vote on the issue of pylons tabled by Senator Rónán Mullen and seconded by the Sinn Féin senators.

“I spoke to Senator Mullen that day and informed him that, due to bereavement, Senator Reilly would be unable to attend for the vote.

“It is not Rónán Mullen's place to judge when Senator Reilly can and cannot attend a funeral. He is using someone’s loss to score cheap political points and to up his profile for the EU elections.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín said unionist politicians and the PSNI need to step up to the plate to get loyalist paramilitaries off the people’s backs.

His comments come following the shooting of a 15-year-old boy in Coleraine this morning.

Mr Ó hOisín said,

“This is the second shooting in the Coleraine area within a week and it is clear that loyalist paramilitaries are again flexing their muscles.

“They have been cranking up their actions right across the North in recent months yet many unionist politicians are either in denial or don’t have the will to tackle them.

“The vast majority of the unionist people want these gangsters out of their community and both the unionist politicians and the PSNI must step up to the plate and take a more hands-on approach to tackle this violence.”

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Sinn Féin has organised information meetings on the future of Single Farm Payments and how these changes could impact upon farmers here.

 Agriculture Spokesperson Oliver McMullan said,

 “The European Single Farm Payment is vital for farmers in ensuring the viability of their farms and is a lifeline for many farmers.

“Under the Common Agriculture Policy the Single Farm Payments are to be replaced by a new Basic Payment Scheme so it is important that farmers hear from DARD officials on how this will impact upon them.

“DARD have agreed to send facilitators to meeting across the North on the issue with the first one being held in the Clogher Valley Community Centre in Augher on 20th Nov and the second one scheduled for the 28th Nov in the Cranagh Community Hall in the Sperrins between Draperstown and Plumbridge.

 “Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will also be in attendance in order to give information on how the EU works and to listen to the issues that arise.

“CAP reform has allowed for regionalisation and DARD has indicated that there are as many as 80 decision points which can help us shape the policy to suit the needs of farmers in this region.  

 “Last year, the total amount paid out was £245 million to approximately 32,000 applicants and this underlines the importance of getting this right and protecting our farming industry.

 “We have therefore organised this public consultation so that farmers can hear directly from DARD officials about the proposed reforms so I would appeal for all farmers to attend and have their questions answered and have their views aired.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has this evening welcomed the announcement that Úachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins will make a state visit to Britain.

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This government has cut the benefits to young people while failing to deliver jobs. It is clear that our young people want to work, live and contribute to Irish Society. However this government has failed to provide opportunities and many young people face the choice of emigration or the dole.

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Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, today criticised Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, for dismissive comments made yesterday evening, which claimed that Sinn Féin was building a party on the prospects of a failed economy. In his response, Deputy Doherty asserted that Sinn Féin will continue to expose and challenge the government, offering a fair alternative means of reducing the deficit, achieving economic growth and protecting low and middle income earners.

The Donegal South-West TD said:

 “Minister Noonan’s dismissal of alternative voices harks back to the Ahern groupthink era, when rather than answer questions asked, they were contemptuously dismissed.

“Questions need to be answered rather than dismissed. Why is the economy not growing at any level near what the government projected? Will the Irish taxpayer once again be asked to carry the burden if more money is needed after the banking stress test next year? Why has the government failed to deliver on the commitment at EU level last June to retroactively recapitalise the banks?

“Sinn Féin is a critical and questioning alternative voice and will continue to pursue, challenge and expose the government. There is an alternative and fair way to reduce the deficit, to meet targets, achieve economic growth and protect middle and low-income earners.

“The government choses to ignore these alternatives.”

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Speaking at today’s Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) Conference in Dublin entitled ‘The EU – The Military Dimension’ Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Lynn Boylan sharply criticised the Labour party and Fianna Fáil for failing to vote down a European report which notes with regret that the EU does not possess a permanent military planning and conduct capability.

The young female Dublin candidate said:

“There can be no doubt that the EU has become increasingly militarised since the Maastricht Treaty.   

“Earlier this year the European Parliament approved a report titled EU Structures, State of Play and Future Prospects following on from the passing of the Lisbon Treaty.  This report notes with regret that the EU still does not possess a permanent military planning and conduct capability.  It also reiterated its grave concern at cuts in national defence budgets. 

“Just two Irish MEP’s voted against this report, one of whom was Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson. Six Irish MEPs voted in favour of the report, including the Labour party, and four abstained.  This report is just one of many votes that Irish MEP’s take on the issue of defence and security, yet they are rarely challenged at home for the positions they take.

“What I find truly shocking is that none of our MEP’s voted against a document that defends excessive military spending whilst 64,700 young Irish people are officially out of work, under 26’s have had their benefits cut by 30%, and another €1bn is to be cut from the health.

“In 2010 European Union member states spent €194 billion on arms.  Even Greece has been pressured by France and Germany not to reduce defence spending.  Defenders of the arms industry will say that it employs 800,000 people in the EU but research shows that for every euro invested in education or public transport twice as many jobs are created than that invested in the arms industry.

“Sinn Féin supports positive neutrality that opposes military alliances and instead seeks international cooperation and conflict negotiation.  Neutrality it is about active engagement in the global community and the relentless pursuit of global justice through peaceful means.  

“The majority of Irish people are in favour of neutrality, as PANA’s commissioned poll has shown. We need to hold our European parliament representatives to account. Today I am calling on citizens to regularly check the votewatch.eu website site and demand explanations on positions taken by MEPS in advance of next summer’s European elections.” 

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said that it is ‘time for all of those who believe that a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael can deliver a better Ireland – to work together.’

The Sinn Féin leader will be speaking this evening (Saturday November 16th) in the Rotunda in Parnell Square at an event to mark the centenary of the founding of the Irish Volunteers.

Gerry Adams said:

"The next stage must see a genuine process of reconciliation among the people of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.

"We need to address, comprehensively, issues such as respect for identity, symbols and culture.

"We need to deal properly with the legacy of the past and tackle the scourge of sectarianism.

"This requires nationalists and unionists and republicans working together.

"It requires republicans continuing to show leadership and self-confidence as Belfast Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir did last Monday.

"It requires political, civic and community effort.

"It requires the Irish government acting as a co-equal guarantor with the British and not as a junior partner."

The Sinn Féin President reiterated his call for a border poll and will call for a realignment of Irish politics. He said:

"The Good Friday Agreement provides for a border poll and a simple majority vote, to determine the constitutional status of the North.

"Such a poll could provide a unique opportunity for a historic debate on the future of this island.

"The government here needs to encourage that debate instead of trying to close it down.

"The political geography of the North is also changing. It is no longer an Orange state.

"Politics across on the island is in flux. A new Ireland can be what we make it.

"Ireland today needs a realignment of politics which reflects the radical spirit of 1913 and of the years that followed.

"Last month the Fine Gael/Labour government again targeted the most vulnerable in our society by attacking the elderly, the young and the sick.

"The British government has cut the block grant.

"Austerity works for the wealthy and the elites – the financiers, the bankers and developers. Austerity is not working for working families.

"Our task must be to oppose it at every opportunity - North and south.

"That means building alliances on social and economic matters with others in Ireland and abroad, who share our opposition to austerity.

"It means working to secure real change - including a realignment of Irish politics.

"At a time of great challenge for Irish workers who are facing relentless austerity and attacks on basic social protections, there has been a failure of leadership in the Labour movement.

"Some of this is also because some trade union leaders place too much trust in the Labour Party leadership.

"The trade union movement needs to get back to activism; to organising, to campaigning, to recruiting, to agitating for the rights of workers, including unemployed workers, the poor and demonstrating across all employment sectors.

"The vast majority of Irish people want a society that is based on values of social justice, fairness, equality and decency.

"I firmly believe that this can be achieved if we work together.

"This means trade union activists, community activists, individuals, political parties, like Sinn Féin, and independents of like mind joining together in common cause against austerity.

"It means developing viable alternative policies to meet the economic and political challenges of today and tomorrow.

"It also means raising issues relating to the Good Friday Agreement; equality issues, social and economic matters, as well as pushing anti-sectarian strategies and working with disadvantaged communities across this island, including loyalist communities.

"It is also time for all those who believe that a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael can deliver a better Ireland – to work together."

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