Doherty launches attack on coalition government at Wolfe Tone commemoration
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has delivered the main oration at this year’s Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown Graveyard.
During the course of the speech Deputy Doherty launched a scathing attack on the record of the current Fine Gael and Labour Government.
“After more than two years in office it is painfully clear that The Fine Gael/Labour government has utterly failed the Irish people.
“They have failed to tackle record emigration, failed to tackle escalating unemployment, failed to tackle the banks, failed to tackle the scandal of mortgage distress, and failed to tackle the problems facing small businesses.
“Michael Noonan has failed to negotiate a debt write-down on the Promissory Note.
“James Reilly has failed our health services. Cronyism and shambolic management are the hallmarks of his disastrous tenure. Among other scandals in health we have watched as people with disabilities are targeted through the removal of the mobility allowance.
“Ruairi Quinn has failed on Education, presiding over a shambles on third levels grants, stripping resources from our schools and making cuts in special needs assistance
“Alan Shatter — the most arrogant Justice Minister since Michael McDowell — has failed spectacularly, closing down rural Garda stations and losing the confidence of both Gardai and the general public
“Brendan Howlin has completely failed to tackle excessive pay in the public sector and instead has targeted frontline workers on low and average pay.
“Enda Kenny has failed to deliver his much vaunted ‘democratic revolution’,
“And Eamon Gilmore has abjectly failed the cause of labour and all of those who had placed their hope in the Labour Party.
“In the Ireland of 2013, the message of Tone is more relevant than ever. Now more than ever, this country needs republican politics.”
Full text of Deputy Doherty’s speech follows:
Pearse Doherty TD
Wolfe Tone Commemoration
23rd June 2013
Bodenstown, County Kildare
Today — on the 250th anniversary year of his birth — we gather at the graveside of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the foremost revolutionary figure in Irish history and founder of the Society of United Irishmen.
Tone led the 1798 rebellion which aimed to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent and democratic Irish republic.
Today, as we do every June, we honour the principles for which Tone gave his life; the men and women of 1798, and each subsequent generation who struggled for republican objectives.
Tá dhá chuimhneachan Céad bliain tábhachtach eile i stair na hÉireann ann i mbliana – Frithdhúnadh Mór Bhaile Átha Cliath agus bunadh Óglaigh na hÉireann agus Airm Saoránach na hÉireann
Thaispeáin an Frithdhúnadh (an Lockout) an uchtach agus an spiorad láidir a bhí i muintir Bhaile Átha Ciath ag an am crua sin agus ba sin díreach an eachtra a chuir lásóg sa bharrach agus a réitigh an cosán do Éirí Amach 1916.
Ba dhá eagraíocht a bhí in Óglaigh na hÉireann agus in Airm Saoránach na hÉireann a chuir a gcuid gualainneacha le chéile chun an Éirí Amach sin a chur ar cois.
Ba chóir do phoblachtaí na hócaidí tábhachtacha seo a chomóradh agus ba chóir dúinn amharc orthu mar dheis; sé a chairde Deis agus Deis iontach thábhachtach chun tús a chuir le plé agus le cainteanna tábhachtacha faoin staid ina bhfuil Éirinn sa lá atá inniu ann.
It is also important to note that it is 100 years since - almost to the day - that Pádraig Mac Piarais addressed the Wolfe Tone Commemoration here in Bodenstown.
Just as Pearse told those assembled here, a century ago, we believe that we are gathered in a very special place to honour a very special man - Wole Tone.
For us, merely coming here to pay respects to an historic revolutionary leader is not enough. To rightfully honour Tone, republicans today must take the democratic and republican principles he espoused and apply them to the Ireland of 2013.
Thirty years ago speaking here, Gerry Adams, then the newly elected MP for West Belfast, said that if Wolfe Tone were alive he would be “formulating policies, strategies and revolutionary tactics to combat the national, social and economic evils which beset our people.”
That remains the task of republicans in 2013. If we wish to be true to the memory of Tone we need to take his words and apply them to the reality of Ireland today.
Tone said his objects were to “subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country”
The malign influence of the British Government is still a political issue in Ireland. Pledges made at St Andrews in 2006, on a range of social and economic issues, have been broken. This is undermining both the work of the North’s Executive and the Peace Process itself.
The situation has been compounded with British authorities charging Donegal republican John Downey and Belfast man Michael Burns – both supporters of the Peace Process – in a clear breach of commitments given by the British Government at Weston Park and subsequent negotiations.
Let me say very clearly that the Conservative British Government needs to reverse the disastrous course it has been pursuing in relation to the North. It needs to honour its obligations to the Peace Process. And the Irish Government needs to hold it to account in this regard.
However, as followers of Tone, we will not be satisfied until British Government involvement in Irish affairs has been ended.
It is now 15 years since the Good Friday Agreement, which included a commitment to a border poll on Irish Unity. Sinn Féin believes that now is the time for the people to have their say. We have argued for a border poll to be held in the lifetime of the next Assembly.
The power to call such a poll rests with the British Secretary of State but the Irish Government clearly has a responsibility to ensure that the commitment in the Good Friday Agreement is upheld.
A Border poll is part of the process of building a modern and dynamic New Republic on this island – an agreed Ireland achieved by peaceful and democratic means.
This generation of Irish people stands on the threshold of great change. Previous generations have struggled for a united Ireland. But our generation has the best opportunity of achieving it.
Wolfe Tone was just as clear on the means by which he sought to achieve his objectives. These were: “To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in the place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter.”
In post-conflict Ireland I believe strongly that we need to renew Tone’s message of unity among our people. Much work remains to be done to tackle the scourge of sectarianism.
The North has been transformed by the Peace Process. Republicans and unionists are working together in the Executive. But we need to strive for a situation whereby at all levels of society, republicans and unionists are working to bring communities together and to dispel mistrust.
This can and must be done without prejudice to our respective political aspirations and the competing objectives of a united Ireland on the one hand or maintenance of the union on the other.
If we work on dismantling the mindset that has kept them in place, we can remove the physical walls that separate our communities, Tolerance, mutual respect and the acceptance of equality are the touchstones for the way forward.
Secularism & inclusion
The United Irishmen sought to create a secular republic that was not under undue influence from the hierarchy of any particular church.
Partition and counter-revolution created two reactionary states on this island, which the conservative political, church and business elites shaped to protect their self-interests — in contrast to the vision of Tone and subsequent republican revolutionaries.
Sinn Féin today seeks a secular republic in which the rights of citizens of all creeds and none are respected. We are about building an Ireland for all our citizens in all their diversity, including the new minorities who have made this land their home in recent years.
Neutrality & Internationalism
Tone was the first leader to publicly advocate an independent Irish foreign policy and the idea of Irish neutrality.
The Irish political establishment of 2013 however seeks incrementally to undermine Irish neutrality and independence and to enmesh this country ever more deeply into EU and US military structures.
Sinn Féin today stands firmly against the erosion of Irish neutrality in the interests of international power blocs.
The United Irishmen were deeply influenced by the French and American revolutions and Internationalism has always been a core part of Irish republicanism. Sinn Féin proudly continues that tradition.
We have raised the plight of the Palestinian people as Israel continues to ignore international law and deny them their basic human rights. We stand with those opposing the spreading of illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the West Bank and last year’s savage bombardment of Gaza.
Sinn Féin stands in solidarity with those across the world struggling against imperialism and with those fighting poverty and hunger in the developing world.
Our thoughts at this time are with the suffering people of Syria. The civil war there has already claimed over 80,000 lives and created 1.5m Syrian refugees.
Any decision by western powers to send more weapons into Syria will merely increase the bloodshed and deepen the conflict. It also has the potential to further destabilise the entire region.
The way to stop the conflict in Syria is through peace talks and a peace process.
Struggling in a time of austerity
Tone was very clear from where support for his republican objectives would come. He said:
“If the men of property will not support us, they must fall. Our strength shall come from that great and respectable class — the men of no property.”
Today’s ‘men of property’ — the bankers and the speculators and their friends in high places —have brought huge hardship to Irish families.
People are losing their jobs; more see the only future in emigration. Those left behind fear for their future and what tomorrow holds for their children.
Bondholders, bank executives and financiers still live affluent lifestyles, receiving huge salaries and bonuses while others — who had no hand, act or part in the financial catastrophe — pay for their recklessness, speculation and greed.
Ordinary hardworking families face the daily fear of how they are going to pay their mortgages and household bills.
Meanwhile public services are cut to the bone by the Austerity deal stuck with the Troika by Fianna Fáil and now meekly implemented by Fine Gael and the Labour Party.
Fine Gael/Labour failure in Government
After more than two years in office it is painfully clear that The Fine Gael/Labour government has utterly failed the Irish people.
They have failed to tackle record emigration, failed to tackle escalating unemployment, failed to tackle the banks, failed to tackle the scandal of mortgage distress, and failed to tackle the problems facing small businesses.
Michael Noonan has failed to negotiate a debt write-down on the Promissory Note.
James Reilly has failed our health services. Cronyism and shambolic management are the hallmarks of his disastrous tenure. Among other scandals in health we have watched as people with disabilities are targeted through the removal of the mobility allowance.
Ruairi Quinn has failed on Education, presiding over a shambles on third levels grants, stripping resources from our schools and making cuts in special needs assistance
Alan Shatter — the most arrogant Justice Minister since Michael McDowell — has failed spectacularly, closing down rural Garda stations and losing the confidence of both Gardai and the general public
Brendan Howlin has completely failed to tackle excessive pay in the public sector and instead has targeted frontline workers on low and average pay.
Enda Kenny has failed to deliver his much vaunted ‘democratic revolution’,
And Eamon Gilmore has abjectly failed the cause of labour and all of those who had placed their hope in the Labour Party.
Government of spin and bluster
Spin, bluster and attempted media manipulation have been some of the hallmarks of this government.
The most recent example of this was Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s exaggeration about the outcome of negotiations on a potential EU deal on the Multi-annual Financial Framework.
This is not the first time that Irish Government Ministers have tried to oversell the results of their negotiations at EU level.
But this time Mr Gilmore’s actions backfired badly and indeed could have potentially serious implications for Ireland’s EU presidency.
In the same vein, in the last two tears in a row, in the run up to the budget the Irish public has been subjected to a drip, drip of media leaks from within the government.
These leaks are aimed at hyping up the scale of adjustments to be made in the Budget.
It is a transparent attempt to spin a positive line when Budget day itself arrives.
It is an insult to people’s intelligence.
We have seen it again in recent days.
So, this year I would ask those in the Irish media to remember their responsibility not to be manipulated by the government’s annual pre-budget spin.
Ireland needs republican politics
In the Ireland of 2013, the message of Tone is more relevant than ever. Now more than ever, this country needs republican politics.
In recent years, Sinn Féin has increased in representation at all levels of government on this island north and south. But radical republican voices in the corridors of power are not enough.
We need more radical republican voices in the corridors of schools, colleges, community centres, in the halls of people’s homes, in workplaces, and on the streets — delivering the republican message that politics is not ‘all the same’ and that there is a better way to run this country and organize our economy.
Let us leave here today committed to properly honouring all those who have fought for an Irish Republic by going out and making it happen.
We owe it not just to the generations who have gone before us but most importantly the generation growing up in the Ireland of 2013 and the generations yet to come. Let’s make Tone’s Republic a reality.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.