Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin President hosts Business/community reception

9 May, 2008

Sinn Féin west Belfast MP Gerry Adams today hosted a business/community reception in St. Mary's University College, at which the guest speaker was New York City Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The full text of Mr. Adams remarks (check against delivery)

"A dhaoine uaisle, tá céad míle fáilte roimhe go léir anseo. Is ocáid go h'iontach é seo agus tá mé lan sásta slua mór a fheiceil anseo.

I would like to thank the organizers, St. Mary's for having us, for you all for attending and especially welcome all of our friends from the USA.

The purpose of this gathering is to celebrate and honour the contribution of one of our guests.

That person is the New York City Comptroller, Mr. Bill Thompson.

I also want to acknowledge a number of other guests; Mr. Tom DiNapoli, who is the Comptroller of New York State; Patricia McKeown and Jack O Connor, President and Vice President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Inez McCormack, a former President of the ICTU and a champion for equality and human rights; Bairbre de Brún MEP; Martin Mc Guinness, Deputy First Minister, Conor Murphy, Minister for Regional Development, Michelle Gildernew, Agriculture Minister, Caitríona Ruane who is Minister of Education and Gerry Kelly who is a Junior Minister in the Office for the First and Deputy First Minister.

And a recognition of guests would not be complete without welcoming Pat Doherty from New York who has worked in the Comptroller's office for many years and has been a stalwart promoter of the MacBride Principles and equality laws.

They and all their colleagues are very welcome.

A few weeks ago, on April 11th, Bill Thompson announced a massive $150 million investment by pension funds into the north.
His news was good news, and very welcome.

It is a significant investment in the agenda for change.

A huge role has been played for more than two decades by the Office of the New York City Comptroller in promoting peace and justice and equality in Ireland.

Bill, and before him Alan Hevesi and others, have been champions for the MacBride Principles campaign linking equality and fair employment to investment. For over 20 years the Comptroller's office has ensured that US companies locating here have an equality agenda.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated.

Many of the legislative and policy tools which resulted from the institutional pressure led by the Comptroller's office, together with Irish America, are now enshrined at the heart of the programme for government agreed by the Executive.

The reality is that the North of Ireland and in particular areas like west Belfast and the border areas and west of the Bann have suffered from years of institutional, social and political discrimination.

A key element of the work of the new Executive has to be to end these inequalities.

The priority for Sinn Fein, and for the Executive and Assembly and the all-Ireland bodies, has to be to effectively address existing patterns of social and economic disadvantage and target resources at those in greatest need whilst simultaneously developing our economy.

This is the context for the Investment Conference which took place this week.

The conference was very successful in its presentation of the potential for investors.

Its objective was to get inward investment to build the economy.

It is worth noting that building the economy and promoting equality are now increasingly recognised by business leaders across the globe as complementary and directly linked.

Building a fairer and more equal society is necessary to delivering a more sustainable economy and vice versa.

So, the objectives of the Investment Conference will be best delivered by those investors who prioritise sustainable social-economic investment.

For example, by ensuring that the promotion of equality of opportunity is built into the language and practice of contracts and tenders. The imperative is to effectively tackle existing patterns of social and economic disadvantage.

The Investment Conference was held in areas of advantage - and that's fair enough.

But the investment it brings must regenerate and renew areas of disadvantage.

That is how we will measure its success.

Citizens - men, women and children - have the right to live free of poverty; free of bad housing, of unemployment, of ill-health, of outdated and unequal systems of education.

Citizens have a right to live free of injustice and sectarianism.

I am very proud and pleased to represent an activist community.

We know equality is good for everyone. It is good for the Shankill, as well as for the Falls.

There is great commitment and talent in all of our poorer neighbourhoods.

Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that those who are living in the most deprived and divided areas do not end up getting the least out of increased prosperity and peace.

By integrating social, economic and environmental policies we believe that we can maximise the impact of government spending to ensure that public contracts really do deliver for the whole community, whilst simultaneously also building our skills base for a sustainable, modern economy.

That is why for example new guidelines for public procurement policy are being prepared to ensure that socially beneficial outcomes.

The work we are now all engaged in is crucial, as we seek to deliver on the wider objectives of equality and sustainability.

This weeks Investment conference and the presence of so many friends from the USA has provided a real opportunity to build new friendships, renew old acquaintances and plan for a better future.

And what sort of future can it be?

Imagine the five million people of our small island, free from outside interference, applying our collective energy, our intelligence, our wisdom to produce the wealth to improve the quality of life for all our people.

Imagine an Ireland using that wealth to tackle poverty, to build homes, to educate, to protect the environment, to heal the sick, to help the weak, the aged, all the children of the nation.

Well that's what we now have the chance to achieve.

It isn't a pipe dream - it can be done.

And with friends like Bill Thompson, Tom DiNapoli and their colleagues it will be done.

There is a very dynamic and innovative and committed business sector in this constituency and others like it.

There is a culture of can-do and a raft of talented and skilled people ready and willing to create good jobs, and to build prosperity.
I wish all of you well.

Positive change never comes easily. All history teaches us that.

But history also teaches us that determined people motivated, organised, and resolutely demanding their rights will win through.

I now want to welcome Bill Thompson to the podium. I want to make a small presentation to him on your behalf." ENDS

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