Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Padraig Mac Lochlainn speaks to motions 99 and 100

21 February, 2009


Partition has been a profound injustice to border communities and has failed us all

One month ago, hundreds of Irish republicans from throughout the Island of Ireland gathered together at the Mansion House in Dublin to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first Dáil and to rededicate ourselves to the objectives of Irish independence, national unity and social equality as espoused in that revolutionary parliament's Democratic Programme and the 1916 proclamation that inspired it. Unlike our 26 county Minster for Finance, when I think of patriotic duty, I don't think of where on this island, our people decide to do their Christmas shopping. Rather, I think of returning to the promise of Easter1916 and January 21st 1919.

And never has that promise been more important.

The economic challenges before us are huge but they can be overcome with honest leadership and decisive action. The starting point must be stimulating the economy. This means measures to encourage economic growth, economic strategies which invest in jobs, in people and in public services.

It means ending the nonsense of two competing economies on this island with two administrations, two health services, two education systems, two investment bodies with separate strategies and two different tax regimes.

I live in the Inishowen peninsula right on the border. I have seen the negative and debilitating impact of partition at first hand. I have seen cancer patients travelling hundreds of miles when they could have had those services on their doorstep. I have seen investment agencies compete rather than cooperate and ultimately fail us on either side of the border. I have seen our services taken away and economic prosperity pass us by again and again. Partition has been a profound injustice to the people of the border counties but it has also failed all the people of this island.

Irish Unity is not just a dearly held republican aspiration. It is an economic imperative. In short Irish unity makes economic sense. A considerable market of six million people exists on the island of Ireland. Over three million workers across Ireland have fuelled extraordinary economic growth in the past 10 years.

Despite these developments the continuing partition of Ireland creates impediments to economic development. These impediments cost individuals and businesses on a daily basis. They cost the island economy hundreds of millions each year. The identification and removal of these costs will create efficiencies, employment, wealth and opportunity across Ireland.

Given the severe pressure being placed on public service budgets by the current crash in government revenue, duplication in service provision on the island of Ireland cannot be allowed continue. A root and branch review of all services must be undertaken to integrate services. This review will ensure the quality provision of services to our citizens and will reap savings from the efficiencies gained.

Ireland today needs a new standard of patriotism that is not in thrall to gombeenmen, bankers and reckless profiteers. The foundation stone of that patriotism is the Democratic Programme of An Chéad Dáil.

Republican values and republican politics have never been so relevant or so necessary.

Irish unity makes sense politically, economically and socially.

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