Martin Mc Guinness speaking in support of motions 1 - 7
Motions 1 to 7 deals with National and Democratic Rights and of all the Parties on this island Sinn Féin is best placed to speak to these issues from the point of view of experience on the ground in every part of our Country. We are the only Party with strategies and policies that are designed to assist people in every town and village in the 32 counties. We are the only national party on this island. Our policies don't stop at the British imposed border. They are not 6-County specific or 26 County specific. Our policies are developed with an all-Ireland content and it is for this reason that I stand in support of motions 1 to 7.
Sinn Féin sets the pace in the all-Ireland Agenda — others follow
And while there is good work being done both through the All Ireland bodies and in the agreed areas of co-operation there is considerable scope for building on that work. Sinn Féin continues to lead in this in this area.
Last week we put detailed proposals to the two governments for the consolidation and expansion of All-Ireland activity. These proposals contained in a 72 page document include developing areas of co-operation and the establishment of additional all-Ireland Implementation bodies covering pollution control, Agriculture and Rural Development, Poverty and Energy that would bring tangible benefits to all the people of Ireland. But it should not stop there. There is a need for co-operation and development on a wide range of issues on an all-Ireland basis. Some that are contained in this series of motions but there are others as well in areas of Justice, the standardisation of Taxes, fuel duties, the abolition of ground rents throughout the country. There are numerous areas that we as an all-Ireland party can co-ordinate campaigns on a 32-County basis. For instance, why should people in this part of the country pay 40% more for home heating oil than those of us in the North? Or why should people in the North pay almost double for petrol and diesel than you here in the 26? Only with the expansion of the all-Ireland aspects of the Agreement can we address these problems and harmonise taxes and living conditions island wide.
I call on Bertie Ahern to implement his claimed intention to provide for representation in the houses of the Oireachtas for the people of the North. But I call on him to introduce the relevant measures now before the European and Local government elections. Or is his comments only rhetoric designed to keep the lobby for Northern representation quiet until after the elections when he will forget this promise just as he forgot all the promises his party made to the electorate prior to the last election.
We also published a discussion document recently entitled 'Rights for All'. Everybody should familiarise themselves with this document and engage community, church, trade unions and any other activist or community groups in your areas about their thoughts and suggestions on this subject.
I commend Motions 1 to 7 to this Ard Fheis and urge delegates to support them.