Sinn Féin - On Your Side

DUP not elected to be messenger boys for Cameron’s millionaire cabinet – Anderson

20 April, 2014 - by Martina Anderson MEP


Sinn Féin is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms. We are opposed to the agenda, which seeks to make the most vulnerable and ordinary working families pay for the greed and excesses of the bankers


Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said today that the DUP should remember they were not elected to be messenger boys for the millionaires in David Cameron’s cabinet in London.  Ms Anderson was speaking at an Easter commemoration in Belfast organised by the National Graves Association.

Martina Anderson said: “British Tory policy threatens to destroy the economy in the North through savage cuts to public funding and welfare.

“If it had not been for Sinn Féin, Nelson McCausland was quite prepared to implement the dictates of Cameron’s millionaire cabinet in Westminster - years ago without any change.

“Sinn Féin is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms. We are opposed to the agenda, which seeks to make the most vulnerable and ordinary working families pay for the greed and excesses of the bankers.

“This should come as no surprise to the DUP.

“We have been crystal clear on this. We have voted against the Bill at every stage in the Assembly.

“The DUP on the Executive need to start behaving like ministers for the people.

“In recent weeks - Sammy Wilson, Simon Hamilton and Nelson McCausland have become messenger boys for the Tories in London – and now Peter Robinson has joined in as well.

“They need to remember they are in government to make decisions not simply to implement the urges of the millionaires in the Cameron Cabinet.

“Sinn Féin is politically and ideologically opposed to the politics of austerity north, south and in Europe.

“The DUP need to recognise that Republicans stand up for equality, human rights and social justice for all – and that is a reality they need to get used to.” CRÍOCH/ENDS

The speech delivered by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast today Sunday, 20 April 2014.

Is pribhléid mhór dom bheith anseo inniu i mBéal Feirste ag comóradh Éirí Amach na Cásca.

Firstly I would like to pay my respect to all those from this great city who gave their lives to achieve Irish freedom.

This city has a long and proud Republican history.

Belfast was the cradle of modern Irish Republicanism and Belfast Republicans have played a key role ever since in the Republican struggle for liberty and equality for all.

On this the 98th anniversary of the Rising we commemorate the nationalists, republicans, Irish language activists, trade unionists and feminists who defied an Empire - to fight for an independent Irish Republic.

Sinn Féin remains committed to the vision of 1916 and the implementation of the principles of the Proclamation.

We need to build Sinn Fein’s membership, support & political strength so that we can achieve a real republic on this island.

And Republican Belfast must continue to play a leading role in the building of that political strength.

Republicanism has never been stronger since 1919.

The Republican strategy is working. Be in no doubt that it is a roadmap for Irish unity.

Politics on this island have been transformed utterly because of the positive and constructive role Republicans played.

Sinn Féin is driving an equality agenda through government in the 6 Counties, in opposition in the 26 Counties,  in the all-Ireland institutions and in our opposition to cuts and austerity in Europe.

Our party is the second largest in the North and we are on the rise in the 26 Counties.

We are the only truly All-Ireland Party.

We are running 350 SF candidates in local government elections - standing in every council area on this island.

We are the only party fielding candidates in every constituency in Ireland in the elections to the European Parliament.

We aim to have 4 Representatives Standing up For Ireland, making sure the voice of people on the ground is heard loud and clear in the corridors of power in Europe.

And it’s appropriate on the 100th anniversary of Cumann na mBan that 3 out of the 4 Sinn Féin candidates in the European elections are women.

Equality, Democratic Rights, Political Partnership and all-Ireland institutions enshrined in the Good Friday and other Agreements - are the basis for continued change.  We are the game changers.

However, many challenges still remain.

The Peace Process must be built upon.

While the North in particular has been transformed for the better in recent years, the scourge of sectarianism remains.

Republicans are committed to a genuine process of national reconciliation.

This means reaching out to the unionist community and taking initiatives such as taking part in the recent Irish Presidential visit to London.

Our party leadership took this decision to further strengthen the process of change started - by the Irish Peace Process, and to advance the aim of national reconciliation.

Real reconciliation is essential to create trust between unionists and nationalists and between both parts of Ireland, - but for this to happen, unionist leaders must also play their part.

I want to pay special tribute to the families of our Patriot Dead - and to particularly welcome those who are with us here today. Céad míle failte romhaibh.

Backing these initiatives is challenging for all republicans.  However, the families of our Patriot Dead continue to make an exceptional and huge contribution to the advance of Irish freedom with their support for Sinn Fein and for the party leadership.

Our Comrades, your husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons and daughters were ordinary men and women who in extraordinary and difficult circumstances found the inner strength, determination and courage to stand against injustice and oppression, and to demand the rights and entitlements of the Irish people.

I want you their families to know, that we will never forget what they gave to take this struggle to the place where it is today.

It is now over three months since Dr Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O’Sullivan presented compromise proposals to deal with the outstanding issues of flags, parades and the past.

Political unionism has either rejected or stalled the Haass proposals - and the negative approach of the British government has facilitated this.

Only this week the British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers jumped on to the unionist agenda on the issue of the past.

She ignored the reality of Collusion between British forces and state-sponsored death squads.

Her comments were deeply insulting to the families of the hundreds of victims of these forces.

Her approach will take us nowhere. What’s required now is for the Irish and British governments to un-equivocally back Haass.

Continued failure to tackle these contentious issues will hold back progress in the political and peace processes.

Of course the unionist no-men and their allies in the British establishment are not the only people trying to hinder and attack progress.

 There is another small minority in our community who are attempting to derail any progress in the peace and political processes. They are criminals masquerading as Republicans no matter what names they attach to themselves.

Their actions sully the name of Republicanism.

And as we prepared to gather at Easter time to commemorate our patriot dead one of these small groups took the life of Thomas Crossan in this city.

 The only thing they have succeeded in doing is leaving a family bereaved. The Republican community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions now and go away.

Irish citizens North and South have faced a long period of economic hardship.

Hundreds of thousands are unemployed.  Many more are struggling to survive and young people continue to emigrate in droves.

In the North, British Tory policy threatens to destroy the economy through savage cuts to public funding and welfare.

If it had not been for Sinn Féin, Nelson McCausland was quite prepared to implement the dictates of Cameron’s Millionaire Cabinet in Westminster - years ago without any change.

The needs of ordinary working families - and those with disabilities - are secondary to the DUP’s need to please Big Business, Big Lobbyists, and Right-Wing Tories in London, with total disregard to the damage to communities, to working families and to the disabled and elderly here in the north.            And with little regard to the fact that the implementation of many of these measures in England - has been a disaster.

We should remember why we are in this financial mess.

We are in it because of the greed of the property speculators and developers  -  and their friends at the top of the banks.

Maybe it should come as no surprise that the DUP now find themselves on that side of the argument on welfare cuts.

Sinn Féin is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms.

We are opposed to the agenda, which seeks to make the most vulnerable - and ordinary working families pay for the greed of the Bankers. This should come as no surprise to the DUP.

We have been crystal clear on this. We have voted against the Bill at every stage in the Assembly.

The DUP on the Executive need to start behaving like Ministers for the people.

In recent weeks - Sammy Wilson, Simon Hamilton and Nelson McCausland have become messenger boys for the Tories in London – and now Peter Robinson has joined in as well.

They need to remember they are in government to take decisions – they are not there simply to implement the urges of the Millionaires in the Cameron Cabinet.

Sinn Féin is politically and ideologically opposed to the politics of Austerity north, south and in Europe.

The DUP need to recognize that Republicans Stand Up for Equality, Human Rights and Social Justice for All – and that is a reality that they need to get use to. 

Finally, I would ask people here today who are not yet members of Sinn Féin, to join our party.

There has never been a better time and it has never been easier.

There is room for everybody.

If we are to create a movement for change, we need everybody! We need You!

Is ag togáil náisiúin atá muid.

We are about laying the foundations for a New Republic - a real republic with social justice and equality at its core.

So let’s go from here today even more determined to play our part, confident in the knowledge that each of us will be part of building the republic for which your love ones, our friends and comrades gave their lives.  CRÍOCH

Change Cannot Be Stopped

The story of change is only beginning.

Sinn Féin will not allow Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to waste the potential, the possibilities and the aspirations of our people.

A government led by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil together does not represent the change that people voted for in February. In fact, it is an attempt to deny change, to protect the status quo and to continue with the same broken politics that has so badly failed workers and families

Sinn Féin will defend the change that the people voted for. We will continue to stand up for workers and families.

North and south, Sinn Féin is that change for a fairer, stronger and united Ireland.

Fully Supporting our Health Service and Frontline Workers

We need to ensure that we have all available capacity within our health systems, that we have sufficient ventilators and respiratory equipment, sufficient beds including ICU beds, and that our frontline workers are protected.  We need more testing and tracing and we need to ensure that we have all available capacity within our health systems, that we have sufficient ventilators and respiratory equipment, sufficient beds including ICU beds. 

The lack of protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, carers and others is causing a lot of concern – with frontline workers taking to the internet looking for resources and the government have stated that homehelp workers don’t need PPE. 

We need to see delivery of more testing across the island to tackle COVID-19 in line with the advice of WHO and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Income Support - Protecting Workers & Families

Sinn Féin’s proposals in the south would have guaranteed 100% of income up to €525 a week for workers and the self-employed who are laid off due to this crisis.  The Irish government’s proposal comes nowhere close to that and does not go far enough. €350 is not enough for people who have lost their jobs. 

While we are supportive of the wage subsidy scheme we believe that it must be targeted and not open to abuse - employers should have to make up the rest of the 30% of the salary – under the Irish government proposal employers could put in just one cent towards their employees pay.

There are also outstanding issues including: will workers have to pay tax on this income, now or at the end of the tax year; can workers who reside in the north but pay tax in the south be able to access the PUP payment?

Protecting Workers, Families and Businesses in the North

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has introduced protections for workers, small businesses and is lobbying the British Treasury to support the self-employed. He has brought in rate relief, including a three month rate holiday for all businesses and grants to support SMEs.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has streamlined the benefit system to make it easy for those affected by COVID-19 to access benefits, including sick pay for workers.  She has also introduced support measures for the community and voluntary sector.

Affordable Housing

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael cannot be trusted to deliver on housing. Their records speak for themselves.

Sinn Féin is committed to delivering the largest housing build in the history of the State.

Sinn Féin's "Fair Rent and Protection of Renters Bill" would prohibit rent increases on existing and new tenancies for three years and end the practice of tenants being evicted from buy-to-let properties on the grounds that a property is to be sold. These are vital protections that people need now more than ever.

In the north, Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has introduced measures to support those in the public housing sector and we have called for mortgage relief for homeowners and businesses.

Banks and the Insurance industry

It is outrageous that many people with a €200,000 mortgage will pay close to €2,000 more over the lifetime of their mortgage because the banks are not only charging interest but interest on the interest.  This is how the banks are intending to profit out of this crisis and it is outrageous. We want the Central Bank and the banks called in by the government and this to be stopped. We have been in touch with the Minister, the Central Bank and the banks on this. The fact is that they already charge twice the average EU interest rates for mortgage  - they need to waive all interest during the period of the emergency and not profit on it.

The behaviour of the insurance industry also needs to be tackled – they are failing to respond properly to this crisis.

The insurance industry is trying to find ways of avoiding providing coverage to businesses who pay very high insurance premiums and have been forced to close as a result of the crisis.  They need to be reined in by the Central Bank and taken to task over this behaviour. Nothing less than this is approach is required.