Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin seeks to build political alliance for change - McDonald

12 April, 2009


Speaking at today’s Easter commemoration at the GPO in Dublin Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald called for a new political alliance in Irish politics, including Sinn Féin and the Labour Party, to challenge the conservative agenda and call to account those who have created the economic crisis. She said the current crisis offers an opportunity to re-shape the state and build a new society.

Ms. McDonald also called on Republicans to defend the Peace Process and on the British Government to deal honestly and fairly with the many victims of its policies of assassination, shoot to kill and collusion with Unionist paramilitaries.

She said, “The electorate in the 26 Counties has lost confidence in the Government. Last week’s budget was further proof that Fianna Fáil and the Greens has no plan, no vision and no courage. The longer they stay in office the worse our economic situation will get.

“The current crisis offers an opportunity - an opportunity to re-shape this state. A recovery plan must focus on ensuring that we come out of this crisis with the kind of society we want, that we have the infrastructure, skills and public services that will put us at the top of the competitive rankings as well as delivering an improved quality of life for all our citizens.

“But change won’t come about by replacing the current Fianna Fáil led Government with a Fine Gael led coalition. That is the politics of tweedle dum versus tweedle dee.

“There was never a greater need for the left in Irish politics and the trade union movement to unite in common purpose to challenge the conservative agenda and call to account those who have created the economic crisis. Sinn Féin wants to create a new political alliance for change in Ireland to offer a credible egalitarian alternative to Irish voters. Such a movement should involve the Labour Party which has a duty not to prop up Fianna Fáil of Fine Gael. Instead the Labour Party should explore with us and others the potential for co-operation in the future.

“The peace process of recent years has transformed politics in Ireland. The Orange state as we knew it is now gone. The union is being daily undermined as an increasingly confident nationalist community takes co-ownership of every of public, political and institutional life in the North. All of this is part of a bigger journey towards a united Ireland.

“The conflict that ensued from 1969 saw much hurt and many victims on all sides. The British Government has yet to acknowledge its role as a protagonist in that conflict. It is time the British Government dealt honestly and fairly with the many victims of its policies of assassination, shoot to kill and collusion with Unionist paramilitaries.

“The world has moved on. The North has moved on. And while it may take time for some Unionist politicians to catch up, there is no going back to the old days of sectarian domination and two tier citizenship. While things have changed for the better Ireland must continue to move forward. Republicans are as determined as ever to pursue the democratic goal of Irish unity.” ENDS

EASTER COMMEMORATION 2009

DUBLIN

MARY LOU McDONALD MEP

Tá muid báilithe anseo inniu le cuimhnigh na fir agus mná a fuair bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann tharr blianta fada de chogadh agus streachailt. Is am tábhachtach d’Phoblachtánaí í an Cháisc.

We gather this year at this hallowed spot to commemorate the 1916 Rising and those who fought that Easter week, and since then, for an independent Irish republic.

We also mark the 90th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil Éireann.

Republicans today remain deeply committed to the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation and to the objectives of Irish independence, national unity and social equality proclaimed by An Chéad Dáil.

Chomh maith le seo, i mbliana tá sé céad bhlian ón a bhunaigh Countess Markievicz na Fianna Éireann.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Na Fianna Éireann. Fianna Eireann played an important role in the lead up to the 1916 Rising and the Tan War. In subsequent phases of struggle Fianna members paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of Irish freedom. We remember them today.

The republican struggle has passed through many phases since 1916.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Battle of the Bogside when the citizens of Derry defeated the RUC assault on their community and signaled the beginning of a popular uprising against the Orange state. It also marks 40 years since the burning of nationalist streets in Belfast.

These and other terrible events were to shape politics, not just in the North, but throughout Ireland for the following four decades. They marked also the resurgence of republican resistance to Partition and British rule in Ireland.

The conflict that ensued from 1969 saw much hurt and many victims on all sides. Today we remember each of those victims from all sides, we think of their families.

The British Government has yet to fully acknowledge its role as a protagonist in that conflict. It is time the British Government dealt honestly and fairly with the many victims of its policies of assassination, shoot-to-kill and collusion with unionist paramilitaries.

There are 355 republican activists on the Roll of Honour. These men and women are also victims of the conflict. Most were Volunteers in the Irish Republican Army who were killed in action. We grieve for them and we think of the families at this time.

Tá an saol anseo I Éirinn athraithe mar gheall ar próiseas na síochána agus mar gheall ar sár-oibre Poblachtánaithe.

The Peace Process has transformed politics in Ireland. The Orange state as we knew it is now gone. The Union is challenged daily as an increasingly confident nationalist community takes equal ownership of every sphere of public, political and institutional life in the North.

All of this is part of a bigger journey towards a united Ireland.

Only the most delusional of unionist politicians still believes that they can exercise political power in Ireland without doing so in partnership with nationalists and republicans.

The world has moved on. The North has moved on. And while it may take time for some to catch up, there is no going back to the old days of sectarian domination and second class citizenship. Neither can there be a return to armed conflict.

The war is over.  The struggle continues.

Republicans have charted a democratic pathway to Irish freedom, one marked with historic challenges and historic opportunities. Our journey will call for courage, creativity and discipline. Republicans have these qualities in abundance.

The political conditions in Ireland over many decades since 1916 meant that Irish republicans waged war when war had to be waged. But republicans always sought peaceful, political alternatives to war.

The progress of recent years has meant that the struggle for Irish freedom has entered a new phase where peaceful means provide the way forward. But there is still a significant way to go before the achievement of republican goals.

British jurisdiction in Ireland must end. British jurisdiction in Ireland will only end through combined will and the combined efforts of the Irish people.

In our journey towards a united, independent Ireland, republicans seek to make peace with our unionist fellow countrymen and women. The new Ireland we seek is one in which the unionist section of our people feel secure. The fulfillment of the vision of 1916 will be the peaceful coming together of Orange and Green.

This is not rhetoric. Irish unity, freedom for Ireland is not a pipe dream.

The Proclamation of Independence, recited at commemorations across Ireland today is not simply an historical document. It is a statement of political ideals and demands made by the Irish people. It is a call to action. Never before have the political demands of Easter 1916 been more relevant.

Sinn Féin seeks to maximise popular opinion in active support of these demands, including mobilising the Irish Diaspora around the world.

As part of this Sinn Féin will, this summer, hold two major conferences in the USA and a conference in Britain next year.

Irish Unity is not just a dearly held republican aspiration. It is an economic imperative. A united Ireland makes economic sense.

Sinn Féin seeks the establishment of a republic on this island that is worthy of the name — one based on equality and social justice.

Sinn Féin is working to build a united Irish economy. An economy that serves the needs of Irish society and not the other way around.

The most pressing concern for Irish citizens right now is the dire economic conditions that our country faces. Unemployment in this state now exceeds 11%.

The predictions of half a million people on the dole by Christmas must now be regarded as conservative.

As a result of increased unemployment, tax revenue in the 26 Counties is now €2bn below estimate and spending in the area of welfare and medical cards is €1.5bn over budget.

The Fianna Fail and Green government have no coherent plan to resolve this crisis. They have sheltered the wrong doers, the bankers and the developers – their cronies. They have pointed the finger of blame at public sector workers, they have punished families, children with special needs and young people who find themselves out of work. But most damning has been their casual acceptance that the dole queues are growing. To them the unemployed are just a statistic.

This government has failed the people. These government actions go against everything the Republican Proclamation of 1916 stands for. Those in government should read the Proclamation again, that’s if they read it to begin with!!!!

Last week’s emergency budget was brutal and unjust. It has inflicted deep hurt on those who can least afford to pay. It disgracefully targeted those on the lowest incomes, including those earning less than the minimum wage.

The Irish people know that we are in an unparalleled economic crisis. We want to play a part in building an economic recovery. But what tens of thousands of households saddled with debt and wage cuts didn't want and what the nearly 400,000 unemployed don't want is to have to carry the biggest burden of paying for mistakes of others.

The Government persists with a strategy that is solely focused on cuts when what we need to do is stimulate the economy, keep people at work, create new work, boost consumer confidence and keep the wheels of the real economy turning. They have confused bookkeeping with economics. There was little in the budget to help those who are jobless – to enable them to access training and education or to create new employment opportunities.

The electorate in the 26 Counties has lost confidence in the Government. Last week’s budget was further proof that Fianna Fáil and the Greens have no plan, no vision and no shame. The longer they remain in office, the worse our economic situation will get.

It is time for them to go.

The current crisis offers an opportunity — an opportunity to reshape this state. A recovery plan must focus on ensuring that we come out of this crisis with the kind of society we want, that we have the infrastructure, skills and public services that will put us at the top of competitiveness rankings as well as delivering improved quality of life for all our citizens.

But change won't come about by replacing a failed Fianna Fáil-led government with a Fine Gael-led coalition. That is the politics of Tweedle Dum versus Tweedle Dee.

Chonaic muid roimh an dóigh ar théip go huile is go hiomlán leis na rogha seo! Tá sé tharr ama fa choinne athrú! Tá sé in am dúinn an stat seo a athrú!

Outdated Civil war politics does not provide any of the solutions to our country’s modern day problems. Self interested Me Fein politics has failed Ireland. This is the time for the politics of Sinn Fein.

Sinn Féin has a vision for the future and detailed policies, which we believe can get us out of the current economic difficulties. We recently launched a very comprehensive and costed document on job retention and job creation as well as significant proposals in relation to public finances. They point to a better, fairer way forward.

But we do not claim to have a monopoly on finding solutions to our country's difficulties. I believe that it will take a broadly-based popular movement to lead this country in a different direction than that which has lead to our current problems.

This year markes the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1909 the ITGWU for the first time organised the unorganised, the lowest-paid and the most harshly treated workers in Ireland.

Jim Larkin lit a fire that blazed in 1913 and forged in the struggle of the Great Lock-Out a trade union movement that grew from strength to strength. James Connolly led the vanguard of that movement in the Irish Citizen Army that played a pivotal role in the 1916 Rising.

Organised labour defeated conscription in the General Strike of 1918 and the ideals of Connolly were enshrined in the Democratic Programme adopted by the First Dáil.

Ever since then, the most progressive sections of the republican and trade union movements have always acted on James Connolly's words that 'the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour and the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland - they cannot be separated'.

There was never a greater need for the Left in Irish politics and the trade union movement to unite in common purpose to challenge the conservative agenda and call to account those who have created the current economic crisis.

Sinn Féin wants to forge a new political alliance for change in Ireland. We want to offer a credible, decent, egalitarian alternative to Irish voters.

Sinn Féin is ready to join with those political parties, trade unions, community and voluntary organisations who seek this real political alternative — one that aims to meet the needs of all citizens.

Such a movement should involve the Labour Party which has a duty not to prop up Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Instead, Labour should explore with us and others the potential for co-operation in the future.

In 2009 Irish republicans remain guided by the noble ideals of the 1916 leaders. We are more determined than ever to see the realization of the all-Ireland Republic they envisaged. We have never been closer to the day of freedom. But we face many challenges in the times ahead.

In the coming months we face into Local Government and EU elections. These are very important elections. The people will have their chance to deliver their verdict on the government’s performance. On the 5th of June the people have the opportunity at the ballot box to demand a new politics - one that protects and serves the citizens.

I appeal to every voter to use their vote, to use their democratic power in June. To tell government and the political establishment that this is now the people’s time. To say in the clearest terms that Ireland does not want or need a political class that is in hoc to the very wealthy, a political class that is indifferent to working people, a political class that ignored the decision of the Irish people on the Lisbon treaty last year. A political class that arrogantly believes that they know better than the people and that they are not accountable to the people. Well, they don’t know better and they are accountable to us. We deserve better. We demand better. In June we must vote for something better.

Bígí páirteach den obair sin agus bígí páirteach sa streachailt ar son an poblachtanachas a thógáil anseo in Éireann agus san Eoraip. Sin an freagracht a d’fhág fir agus mná naoi déag sé déag agus na glúnta ina dhiaidh dúinn.

Irish republicans are now in a phase of nation building. We are engaged in what Connolly called 'the reconquest of Ireland by the Irish people'. That requires building the political strength to bring about fundamental political, social and constitutional change.

The business of 1916 remains unfinished business. It is business we will see through to completion.

This is a time for Irish people to stand up for themselves, to stand up for each other, to stand by the Republic. Together we can build that republic. A unified, free Ireland that truly cherishes all of the children equally, an Ireland that takes its place among the free nations of the world. That is our destination. Join Sinn Fein on that journey.

Bigi linn, ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

An Phoblacht Abú.

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