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Make political system more inclusive and representative – Adams

17 February, 2011 - by Pat Sheehan

Speaking as Sinn Féin launched political reform proposals Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said for Sinn Féin the most important reform needed is to empower and uphold the rights of citizens.

Gerry Adams said:

“The political system has failed the people.  It is unaccountable and protects those who have abused public office.

“While the crisis in the economy is the most pressing issue at this time, fundamental political reform and the creation of a 21st century fit for purpose political system is absolutely essential.

“Sinn Féin wants to restore the trust of citizens in political institutions and the electoral system.

“There is a need to reform and empower local government, including increasing participatory democracy and authority for planning and public services.

“Many of those entitled to vote do not do so, particularly young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.  This must change.

“Sinn Féin would introduce automatic registration for voters, reduce the voting age to 16, focus on voter education and extend the right to vote to Irish citizens living and working abroad.   

“We would ensure the Dáil is more representative by increasing constituencies to 5-7 seaters. One third would be elected through a list system. The review of constituencies will also look at the issue of reducing the number of TDs.

“Sinn Féin will cut Ministerial salaries by 40% and TDs’ salaries by 20%.  We will end the payment of unvouched expenses.

“Sinn Féin would also abolish ground rents.  It is shameful that almost 100 years after the Rising and the Proclamation that citizens are still paying rent to absentee English landlords.

“This includes the government paying rent on iconic state buildings, including Government Buildings behind me, and Arbour Hill where the 1916 leaders are buried. For what died the sons of Roisin?

“Sinn Féin would establish an all-Ireland Constitutional Forum to bring forward proposals to amend the constitution so that it is fully reflective of the values and aspirations of the Irish people today and which would form the basis for a future 32-county Republic.

“This would draw upon the equality provisions in the Good Friday Agreement to safeguard citizens’ rights and be soundly based on democratic principles and international human rights standards. This would be put to the people in referendum.

“Reform must focus on ensuring political institutions are inclusive, accessible and accountable.

“We will make the Dáil more accessible to the public and change the law to allow for the impeachment, or removal from the Dáil, of any TD involved in corruption or deliberate misuse of public money.

“Those, including Fianna Fáil, who now talk about political reform failed to introduce any meaningful reforms during their time in government.

“Those in power have always protected their own interests.  The citizens of this state deserve political reform – that is what Sinn Féin is committed to delivering.” ENDS

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