Sinn Féin the drivers for change across the Island of Ireland - O'Dowd
Sinn Féin is the voice of an idea, that idea is firmly based on the principles of the 1916 proclamation, that idea and the voice is firmly based on the right of the people of Ireland to self determination.
We here gathered in this room are the voice of that idea.
However for an idea to become a practical reality you need a strategy joined with determination and commitment.Sinn Féin as Irish republicans has all those elements. However we can never take for granted that because we have succeeded in the past, because our endeavors have proven successful before, they will simply fall into place in the future. Our opponents are determined to stop us, to crush the idea and silence it.
They cannot handle our agenda of equality and unity, our agenda exposes their acceptance, indeed in some cases promotion of inequality and support for the failed economic and social policy of partition.
This year we mark with pride the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hungersrike, we remember the struggle within Armagh Jail and the H Blocks. We will debate and commemorate these events.
In doing so we should not only honour the men and women of that era we should also expose a new generation to the principle of republicanism.
However Republicanism is not a spectator sport, we are not an historical society, or a debating society,
We are a revolution in the making, a party whose role is to serve the people rather than making the people subservient to poverty, emigration and hopelessness.
The most appropriate form of commemoration is to continue and complete the task of comrades who have sacrificed everything in pursuit of an idea, a believe that Ireland can be united, independent and free.
We are the drivers for change across the Island of Ireland.
The calling of the elections in the 26 counties can be directly traced to one thing, to an idea, to republicans, to Sinn Féin’s refusal to be diverted away from the task of challenging the failure of Brian Cowen and the Greens to protect the people from the speculators and corruption of greed.Pearse Doherty’s historic victory set the events in chain, this victory did not come about by chance. It came about because the party in Donegal made it happen. They worked over many years to build a base, they made themselves relevant to the people, they showed and give leadership to the people and only then the people of Donegal endorsed them.
The election in the 26 counties has been called for March 11th , the election to the Assembly will be on May 5th with Council election most likely on the same day.
These elections across Ireland, over the next three months could define a generation; each republican has an individual responsibility in the next few months to reshape the political conditions on this Island.
Sinn Féin will be fielding literally hundreds of candidates across Ireland and will be offering the alternative that many citizens seek.
We offer credible alternatives to Tory polices regardless of which side of the border they are delivered.
We have produced economic polices which offer credible alternatives to the Fianna Fáil / Green Govt, and the simplistic economic dogma which told us we just had to accept the British Tory budget.
Sinn Féin refused to simply play along with the partionist economic philosophy being enthusiastically broadcast by Unionist politicians’ and others, such as the SDLP who went to Westminster and swore an oath of allegiance to the English Queen, because they told us if they did all that they would stop the Tories!
We argued and put across our position here in Ireland, refusing to accept the ungraciously named Block Grant allocation,
We led the way in producing economic proposals, we led the way in showing there was an alternative to the British government’s Tory agenda.
The draft budget in the 6 counties is not ideal, it is not what we as republicans ultimately aspire to achieve, however it has the potential to be £1.6bn better than if Sinn Féin had simply taken the advice of the so called economically literate and laid down.
We demand the return of fiscal powers across Ireland, the people of Ireland have the right to be masters of their own economic destiny.
In the 6 counties the economic powers are held by Britain in the 26 counties they are held by the IMF, We demand them back.
In conclusion the elections have started, not one vote has been cast, not one seat has been won.
The task for republicans is to go out to work harder than we ever have, to be more creative than we ever have and make ourselves relevant to the people of Ireland to make these election the elections which define a generation of politics.