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Westminster Election Manifesto 2015


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This manifesto represents Sinn Féin's commitment to the electorate. It is our vow to continue to resist the disastrous agenda of Tory austerity in Ireland. It is our pledge to defend the most vulnerable, to protect public services and deliver a new and better future for this society.

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Following Minister Charlie Flanagan’s comments in the Dáil today concerning Ibrahim Halawa, Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin, Lynn Boylan, has questioned why the Minister is not insisting that Egypt be investigated by the European Union for breaches of Article 2 under the EuroMed Partnership Agreement. Article 2 states that all parties to the agreement will have "respect for the democratic principles & fundamental human rights established by the Universal Declaration of Human rights" (of which Egypt is a signatory). 

Ms. Boylan said:

“I listened to Minister Flanagan state that he cannot interfere with the judicial processes of another country, even if it relates to an Irish Citizen in detention. While I understand the Minister's position, I cannot understand why he has not called for an investigation into Egypt’s breaches of the EuroMed Partnership Agreement under Article 2 at European Council level. In particular any such investigation should havereference to the Barcelona Declaration which refers to the freedom of expression, association, thought, conscience and religion.

"Ibrahim Halawa is the only citizen of an EU Member State behind bars in Egypt. His ongoing detention, having been a minor at the time of his arrest and having been declared a 'prisoner of conscience' by both Amnesty and Reprieve, must surely warrant an investigation?

"If Ireland, as a party to the EuroMed Partnership, believes that Egypt is in contravention of its obligations under the agreement, the Irish government can request that action be taken against Egypt. If such contraventions are related to human rights, urgent action can be initiated. 

“It is baffling that Minister Flanagan has consistently refused to ask Taoiseach Enda Kenny to intervene in Ibrahim's case. It is now even more baffling that the Minister will not insist that an investigation into Egypt's breaches of the EuroMed Partnership takes place immediately.”

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Speaking in the Dáil tonight on the issue of the SME sector and the failure of the government to adequately support them, Sinn Féin TD and Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty criticised the government for over-reliance on the FDI sector and failing to recognise the importance that the SME sector has in local communities.

Deputy Doherty said:

“There can be no recovery without a recovery in our SME sector. 70% of people employed in Ireland and employed in the SME sector. That is an incredible statistic which should place into sharp focus where most workers work.

“Sinn Féin calls for a process where self-employed can voluntarily sign up to the Social Insurance system and avail of jobseeker’s benefit and illness benefit.  

“Specifically, we have argued for the abolition of Upwards Only Rents. A more progressive rates system must also be on the table. Nobody can argue that a flat tax on income is equitable yet when it comes to business rates; we expect an SME to pay the same rate as a multinational or a branch of a large supermarket chain.

“These are just some of the proposals we published last year in our proposals ‘Putting SMEs First’.

“It is a characteristic of this economy for decades now that our entire industrial policy is predicated on attracting Foreign Direct Investment to the State. FDI plays a huge and essential role in our economy, but it is only common sense not to put all your eggs into the one basket.

 “SMEs, on the other hand, are tied to local community and will remain so. They are the core of the real economy. They are the bedrock on which all economic development has to be built and maintained.” 

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Sinn Féin candidate for the forthcoming by-election in Carlow & Kilkenny Cllr. Kathleen Funchion has stated that electing a Sinn Féin TD will be the first step in securing a brighter future for the people of the constituency.

Cllr. Funchion also said that electing yet another TD from one of the establishment parties will not make a blind bit of difference to the lives of ordinary people.

Speaking after the government announced May 22nd as the date for the by-election, Cllr. Funchion said:

“The people of Carlow & Kilkenny at last know the date of when they can use their vote to bring about a meaningful and fundamental change in how our communities are represented.

“This election can be a watershed in Irish politics. Our constituency can send the loudest possible message to this government that they have failed and that their ill-spent time in office is coming to a close.

“The voters of Carlow and Kilkenny will be presented with a clear choice when they enter the polling booths on May 22nd.

“They can choose the broken politics that have brought this state to its knees, the politics represented by Fianna Fáil. They can choose the politics of austerity and cuts that has destroyed so many lives and communities. This is the politics of Fine Gael and Labour Party.

“They can choose more of the same or they can make a real change. They can choose Sinn Féin.

“Voting for Sinn Féin means that you are rejecting the type of political representation that has brought about a housing crisis of frightening proportions, overcrowded hospitals, mass emigration & unemployment and a marginalised rural community. This is what Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and the Labour Party have brought about between them.

“The people of Carlow and Kilkenny do not have to wait for a general election. In four weeks time, they can give their verdict on this shambles by voting for the fair and progressive alternative represented by Sinn Féin.

“Voting for Sinn Fein means that you are not only voting against water charges but that you are voting for the scrapping of water charges. It means you are voting for genuine investment in our public services. It means you are voting for a progressive taxation system and for the rights of ordinary workers.

“I will not go to Leinster House and join the consensus for cuts while the golden circles in high society are insulated from the impact of austerity.

“I will bring the issues of ordinary people from Carlow & Kilkenny to the floor of the Dáil and make sure that their voices are heard.

“As part of a strong Sinn Féin team, I will fight for a fair recovery and for the protection of the vital public services on which our communities depend.

“As a Sinn Féin TD, I will not be a nodding dog for the cosy club. I will not be a silent yes-woman.

“Make no mistake, as the eyes of Europe were on Greece back in January so will the eyes of Ireland be on Carlow & Kilkenny on May 22nd.

“By supporting Sinn Féin, this constituency can signal the end of a government that has caused so much hardship, poverty and grief.

“Electing another TD from the establishment parties will not make a blind bit of difference to lives of ordinary people here. They will go to the Dáil and they will be happy to get lost in the crowd. Either with their active support or through their indifference, they will rubber-stamp the type of decisions that have left families struggling to get by.

“We need a new era in Irish politics - an era in which the interests of ordinary people, not self-serving politicians, are put at the centre of the political process.

“The voters of this constituency can herald the beginning of this new era by voting for Sinn Féin at this by-election.

“Electing a Sinn Féin TD will be the first step in winning a brighter future for Carlow & Kilkenny.” 

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In reply to a question from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, the Taoiseach today confirmed that the Carlow/Kilkenny by-election will be held on May 22nd and that the Minister for the Environment will move the writ shortly.

Deputy Adams said:

“The by-election is about who will best represent the interests of the people of Carlow/Kilkenny in the Dáil. The last thing the people of Carlow/Kilkenny need is another Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael TD.
The Sinn Féin candidate, Cllr. Kathleen Funchion, is an articulate committed young woman activist who will be a voice for all those struggling to make ends meet as a consequence of the austerity policies of the Fine Gael & Labour Party Government.

“Carlow/Kilkenny faces many of the same difficulties as other constituencies, including a crisis in housing, concerns around the provision of health and childcare, and emigration. The bus service is under attack by this government which wants to privatise it. Communities across the entire South East region will be badly affected by the government’s insistence on privatising 10% of Bus Éireann.
In addition many families are struggling because of water charges and other stealth taxes that have been imposed by this government.

“May 22nd presents the people of Carlow/Kilkenny with a clear choice between more of the same in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, or a real and positive change of political direction. It is a choice between the failed politics of the past or a genuine progressive republican alternative which places citizen’s rights at the heart of government.

“The republican vote in Carlow/Kilkenny has been on the rise through recent elections. Kathleen Funchion is an excellent candidate and has a very real chance of winning of winning this seat.” 

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Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said any potential withdrawal from the European Union would have a disastrous impact on the North. 

Mr McGuinness said; 

"Ireland north and south has benefitted enormously from membership of the European Union for decades. 

"Every section of our society has been enriched by our involvement with Europe through access to vitally important European funding, an enormous market for our business sector and the diversity new communities have brought to our society.  

"Agriculture in particular has been a major beneficiary of our membership of the European Union through the Common Agricultural Policy and Single Farm Payment. 

"Any suggestion from unionists or their allies in the Tory party and UKIP that the North should leave Europe would be economically disastrous. 

"Leaving the EU would be pandering to racist and xenophobic elements who have absolutely no regard for the best interests of people living in the North.” 

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Responding to news today that Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are to visit Ireland next month Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said;

“The visit by the British Queen to the Garden of Remembrance, her words of reconciliation and the subsequent meetings with Martin McGuinness demonstrated the potential of these events. 

“I am conscious that Prince Charles is the symbolic head of the British Army's Parachute Regiment and the grievous wrong they have done including to the people of Derry and Ballymurphy where I grew up.

“However I am also conscious that the British Royal family have also been directly affected by the actions of republicans. 

“I hope this visit will be an occasion to promote reconciliation, respect and understanding.” 

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Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, has called for the EU to do more to stop migrant drownings in the Mediterranean Sea, which are claiming the lives of thousands of people attempting to reach the EU. Crowe raised the issue in the Dáil during Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs today.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The Mediterranean Sea is now one of the most dangerous in the world and becoming a mass graveyard as migrants trying to reach Europe are drowning in huge numbers.

“The latest migrant boat tragedy claimed the lives of over 700 people when a boat carrying them towards Italy capsized off Libya. 1,500 migrants have drowned on their way to reach Europe in 2015, this is 50 times more than at same point in 2014.

“This latest tragedy shows that the current EU’s policy and programmes in place are not fit for purpose. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that the EU is not doing enough to save lives.

“We need to strengthen search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas through a joint effort involving all EU Member States. Last year, an Italian search-and-rescue mission that saved more than 100,000 people at sea in 12 months, was discontinued following a row over funding and the burden falling solely on Italy.

“I welcome the Italian Government’s call for an emergency summit on this huge humanitarian crisis. Ireland also needs to be part of a solution to this mounting crisis.

“The EU, as a whole, needs to provide more safe and legal routes to Europe for those fleeing conflict and persecution so they are not forced to take dangerous journeys in the first place; and ensure they have access to international protection when they reach Europe’s borders.

“The summer is fast approaching and the good weather and calmer seas will mean that inevitably more people are expected to attempt the crossing. The EU needs to immediately put in place a coordinated and robustly funded search and rescue mission.”

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Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams has expressed disappointment at Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s response today to questions about the Government’s response to the deaths of refugees in Mediterranean.

 Following questions from Mr Adams in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach refused to outline any proposals that he would bring to Thursday’s EU meeting to discuss the crisis.

 Speaking afterwards, Deputy Adams said:

 “I am disappointed that the Taoiseach failed to outline any proposals to present to his EU counterparts in relation to the deaths and suffering occurring in the Mediterranean.

 “I made the point to the Taoiseach that what is happening is a direct result of the interference of western powers in the Middle East and North Africa. These refugees are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere. They are also fleeing famine and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

 “Like the Irish through the centuries, they are persecuted, injured, hungry and looking for a better life. Their horrors are a direct result of Europe’s colonial record and the much more recent policies of the West towards the Middle East and North Africa.

 “The Taoiseach said today that the Government endorses the EU’s 10-point plan but this an entirely inadequate response to this humanitarian disaster. Doubling funds to the EU border patrol mission will not provide the search-and-rescue operations needed in the face of this crisis.

“It is reported that the EU will seek to stop refugees at sea without any consideration of what happens to them thereafter. So, will refugees be detained in camps in Libya and Egypt, which face difficulties of their own? Will they be forced to return to their own States only to try again at another time and on another boat?

 “The proposal to resettle 5,000 immigrants in EU states is a drop in the ocean when set against the hundreds of thousands who are desperate to travel. ‘Return travel packages’ allowing immigrants to return to the war, poverty or famine they are seeking to escape from is not realistic. Is this Ryanair?”

 Mr Adams said the resettlement of 1,200 people in 14 years – like the treatment of people in Direct Provision Centres - is not something the government or its Fianna Fáil predecessors should be proud of.

 He continued:

“As a nation which suffered conflict, famine, forced emigration, fever camps, death and coffin ships, Ireland needs to adopt a more compassionate approach to the coffin ships of the Mediterranean. The Taoiseach must push at Thursday’s meeting for a strategy to provide substantial aid and investment for the countries affected.” 

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Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed Deirdre Clune’s u-turn on country of origin labelling for processed meat but regrets the Fine Gael MEP felt unable to support the measure when it came to a vote before the European parliament.

Speaking today Ms Boylan, GUE/NGL lead negotiator on the issue said:

“This issue seems to have divided Fine Gael in parliament. Two months ago the European Parliament voted in favour of a resolution that called on the Commission to propose legislation on mandatory country of origin labelling for meat in processed food.

Although the resolution was passed by a majority of MEP’s, both Deirdre Clune and Seán Kelly voted against it.

It is a shame that Ms Clune couldn’t show her support for a policy, which has had proven results for such a large number of Irish farmers and producers on Ireland who are part of the Bord Bia voluntary assurance scheme.”

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