There is no more core Republican guiding principle than that of standing up for those who need help most.
I spent twenty years working for people in Newry and Armagh within welfare rights during the most difficult of times. I’ve seen how quickly lives can be turned upside down.
I know what it is like to see real genuine people at their wits end when they have nowhere else to go. But I’ve seen first-hand the difference giving people a helping hand when they need it most can make, and how lives and families can be turned around.
I’ve also seen how helping those who need it most has a benefit across every sector of society.
I swore when I stood for election first in 2007 that I wouldn’t forget what I’d learned.
The idea that somehow hacking into the pockets of those at the bottom is seen as a soft touch couldn’t be more heartless.
The crippling austerity politics of the Tory party in London and the green Tory parties in Dublin have inflicted deep rooted societal damage on the most vulnerable people in our society.
Warning, after warning, after warning, of the impact of their disastrous policies was ignored, as the slibhin masters of austerity continued their grisly work cutting, slashing, destroying.
But their days are numbered. The people of Ireland now see through them.
During the recent Stormont House Talks, for the first time since the Tory Party took power in London and Fine Gael and Labour took power in Dublin the relentless tide of austerity was abated.
There was no way the Sinn Féin would stand idly by and allow the failed ideology of austerity to dictate our politics.
It simply wasn’t going to happen.
So we did what Sinn Féin does. We solve problems. We find a better way. Despite others saying it wasn’t possible, despite others signing up to deals without Sinn Féin that fell far short of what was finally achieved. We stuck at it. In the end we prevailed.
£94 million for disabled children
Protection for those paying contributory benefit
£564 million for the welfare budget
Sinn Féin delivered.
Key to all of this now is the implementation of the full welfare package agreed at Stormont House.
When we say we stand up for people we mean it. In council chambers all across Ireland, in the Assembly, in Leinster House, in Brussels. On May 7th I will stand proudly on Sinn Féin’s record of putting people first in the Westminster election in Newry and Armagh.”