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Adams addresses Sinn Féin ‘Away Day’

11 September, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams today addressed the meeting of Sinn Féin’s Dáil team, Assembly team and European Parliament team. The meeting is being held today to strategise ahead of the upcoming political term. Find the full speech below:

“A chairde,

Ba mhaith liom fáilte ó chroí a chur roimh na Teachtaí Dála, na Seanadóirí, na Baill Tionóil, an fhoireann ón Dáil agus ón Tionóil agus na bainisteoirí agus eagrathóirí polaitiúla ó gach cearn den tír.

I also want to welcome the members of the media who have joined us here.

Failte mór romhaibh.

After the last Fianna Fáil-led Government wrecked the economy, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition assumed office with a huge mandate for political change.

But as citizens have learned to their cost, over the past four years nothing has changed.

Indeed our society has become increasingly polarised and unequal under Fine Gael and Labour.

Fiú amháin tá an tsochaí  s’againne níos scoilte agus níos míchóra faoi Fhine Gael agus Páirtí an Lucht Oibre.


The adverse impact of government policy


According to Barnardos “one in eight children live in consistent poverty and nearly two in five experience deprivation- this means these children are going hungry, are without a waterproof coat or live in a poorly heated home.”  

The crisis in our health system has worsened by the day.

Just this week an elderly cancer patient spent five days on a trolley in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda - just down the road.

Despite the best efforts of staff and management, Our Lady of Lourdes hospital does not have the resources needed to cope with the health demands placed on it. 

But it’s not alone.

In its monthly comparative survey the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation last week found that in August there were 6,518 admitted patients left on trolleys.

This is a 40% increase on the same period last year.

This is certainly not the best small country to be sick in.

The HSE has said it needs up to two billion additional to provide a safe health service.

The government – which has consistently cut the health budget for four years – says no.

Ach bhí an chuid eile de na saoránaigh thíos leis seo.

Fine Gael and Labour’s Budgets have been the most unfair and unequal since the economic crash.

Low and middle-income earners have been severely penalised.

Child benefit has been cut.

Single parents have had their payments slashed eight times. 

VAT has been increased.

One in six home owners are in arrears 

Homelessness has increased, especially in Dublin.

Rents have increased.

The social housing waiting list is growing across the state.

The telephone grant is gone.

The bereavement grant is gone

The back to school clothing and footwear grant has been cut.

Young peoples job seekers allowance was cut.

Home help hours have been cut. 

So too has help for carers, including cuts to the respite care grant.

This government has implemented Fianna Fáil’s water charges proposal and introduced a family home property tax.

It has forced thousands out of work or into low paid employment and driven hundreds of thousands of others to emigrate.

Half a million in the last 8 years.

The Government's Spring Economic Statement has promised tax cuts for the wealthy and below-inflation spending on public services.

These policies will further exasperate the unfair, two-tier nature of any economic 'recovery' here.

These are the same damaging policies agreed by Fianna Fáil with the Troika in 2010.

Such policies have already led to an increase in low-paid and insecure jobs.

They have accelerated the crises in our health, education and community services.

Over £60 billion of public money, which should have been used to end the scandal of patients lying on trolleys; to house our citizens and to create jobs, is being used to repay private banking debt.

Rural communities and small farmers have also borne the brunt of bad government policy.

Fine Gael and Labour have forced the closure of Garda stations and rural schools.

There are boarded-up shops in main streets in every rural town and village.

As part of a planned effort to address this crisis Sinn Féin engaged in a focussed dialogue with rural communities across this island.

We produced a detailed report outlining measures we would take to rejuvenate rural Ireland and build sustainable communities.

These include:

Regenerating rural towns

Keeping open post offices, libraries, garda stations and other services

Addressing the business rates

And prioritising the roll out of high speed broadband  

According to the ESRI, only the top 40% of households actually benefited from the last Budget.

The greatest benefits went to the top 10%. 

The rest of our citizens were net losers.

Ach is é an teachtaireacht ó Shinn Féin inniu ná ní gá go mbeadh sé mar sin. 

A Fair Recovery

There is a better, fairer way of doing things. Bealach níos fearr, níos córa ann.

Politics is all about choices.

It’s about the interests you represent.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and, to their shame Labour, have made their choices.

They have chosen to represent the interests of the elites in our society and their policies reflect this.

Sinn Féin very clearly stands with the vast majority of citizens - those on low and middle incomes, and indeed those who may be better off but who wish to live in a more equal society.

Tá sé soiléir go seasann Sinn Féin le tromlach na saoránach – na daoine ar thurastal íseal agus meánach, agus fiú na daoine a bhfuil airgead acu ach gur mhaith leo sochaí níos córa a bheith ann.

Sinn Féin passionately believes that the economy must serve society, not the other way around.

We believe that citizens are entitled to decent jobs with decent pay and conditions.

Citizens have the right to a home and quality public services.

Fine Gael and Labour are perpetuating a lie that it is possible to reduce the overall tax take while increasing investment in frontline services.

This approach means that high-earners will be the winners while those on low and middle incomes and citizens most dependent on public services will lose out yet again.

Sinn Féin’s economic alternative offers a route to a fair recovery.

There is an urgent need for a reform of the tax system in this State to ease the burden on low and middle-income earners while also increasing revenue to invest in a fair recovery.

In Government Sinn Féin would ensure that the banks resolve mortgage distress to enable families to stay in their home.

We would increase the minimum wage and move towards a living wage, ban zero hour contracts and prioritise increases in pay and conditions for low paid workers.

We would abolish the unjust family home tax and water charges and get rid of Irish Water.

We would ensure that access to healthcare is provided on the basis of need alone.

Sinn Féin in Government would seek the full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements, including Acht na Gaeilge and a referendum on Irish unity and an island-wide Bill of Rights. 

A priority for any government involving Sinn Féin would be the creation of jobs and ending the scourge of forced emigration.

Citizens desperately need, for the first time ever in this State, a Government that is not led by Fine Gael nor by Fianna Fáil - the two conservative parties who have dominated politics here since Partition.

Citizens need a progressive Government that will pursue real and viable policies based on equality not austerity, on rights not privilege, and which will govern in the interests of citizens as opposed to the elites.

As the centenary of 1916 approaches Sinn Féin is committed to ‘Delivering a Fair Recovery’ that reflects the principles and hope of the 1916 Proclamation.   

We will be launching our Budget 2016 proposals in advance of the Government’s announcement on October 13th.

With an election fast approaching the budget gives us an important opportunity to illustrate to workers, families, the most vulnerable and also to business how we will deliver on our commitment of a fair recovery.

Our proposals will be costed by the departments of Finance and Public Expenditure, and will include a range of taxation and spending measures that seek to deal with the deep inequalities in Irish society.

Our tax measures provide much needed revenue to deliver equality, growth, and improved living standards for those who have suffered most. We will also look to include proposals that support and encourage business, particularly small and medium enterprises.

We will put money back into the pockets of low and middle income families and address the crisis’s facing housing and health.

We will propose measures that will tackle income equality, support parents, and invest in childcare and education.

The Callinan Affair

When the Taoiseach has the guts to call an elecvtion  Sinn Féin will contest every constituency.

We will fight every contest to win.

We will give citizens the opportunity to chose the principled equality based politics of republicanism as opposed to the old politics of strokes and privilege.

When the Taoiseach assumed office he promised a 'democratic revolution' but delivered unaccountable government and stroke politics at its worst.

The establishment of Irish Water is a scandalous example of this.

So too was the departure of the former Garda Commissioner.

The Taoiseach's position in relation to events surrounding this issue is not credible to anyone.

Let me be frank.

It was time for the Garda Commissioner to go.

That was clearly also the belated view of the Taoiseach who had spent the previous months defending the Commissioner and his Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

But the issues involved threatened the government and Taoiseach.

Instead of dealing with this as he should have and putting the issues involved to the Commissioner and Justice Minister – instead of being straight with them – the Taoiseach engaged in a series of dishonest manoeuvres which led to the forced retirement of the Commissioner.

And now he denies his involvement in these matters!

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister Michael Noonan continues to protect NAMA from public scrutiny despite the escalating scandal around the sale of NAMA's northern loan book and other loan books.

He supports NAMAs refusal to attend the Assembly Finance Committee.

In another example of the arrogance of this government the Minister for Finance has failed even to come before the Dáil and make a statement on this matter.

We now need a Commission of Investigation into the management and operations of NAMA.

In my view the manner in which NAMA has conducted its business is deeply flawed and is as big as any other scandal that we have seen in recent times.

Leadership is needed

The huge issue of the moment is the deepening crisis within the political institutions in the north.

Martin McGuinness spoke for all of us last night when he said: “if there's a will to resolve these difficult issues, it certainly can be done. Do I think it can be done? Yes I do."

That is the commitment of our party – to do all that we can to find solutions to the many difficulties facing the political institutions.

For more than two decades Sinn Féin’s peace strategy has guided this party.

Through it we, with others, succeeded in building the peace process.

Enormous progress has been made.

But the resistance to change remains within unionism and the systems, north and south, and in the British establishment.

The current contrived crisis in the institutions is a consequence of the inter-unionist electoral rivalry between the UUP and DUP.

The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has demonstrated no concern about the political and social and community consequences of his cynical actions.

He wants to score points against the DUP and he will exploit any situation, use any opportunity, even one as grave as the murder of two people, Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan, to do this.

And then into this mix we have the arrest of our friend and leader Bobby Storey.

For political unionism and some sections of the media Bobby Storey is guilty by virtue of the fact that he was arrested and he is a Sinn Féin leader.

Let me repeat again my very grave concerns at the way in which this crisis has developed and has been exploited.

However, notwithstanding how the political process got to this point and how malign forces have succeeded in bringing all that has been achieved to the edge of the abyss, the collective responsibility of all the parties is to take a step back.

We have a short window of opportunity to chart a different course through this crisis.

That is the commitment of this Sinn Féin leadership.

We will work with those willing to work with us to find resolutions to all of the outstanding issues.

The focus of party leaders and particularly the two governments, must be on ending the budgetary crisis; seeing the full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements; and ending forever the ability of dissident and criminal gangs to collapse the institutions.

Criminal investigations are not part of the political process.

They are the responsibility of the PSNI and An Garda Síochána. 

We have a duty to support them and Sinn Féin does this. 

Everyone needs to do the same. 

The Fianna Fáil Leader is so obsessed by Sinn Féin that he called for the suspension of the political institutions. 

How stupid is that?

He and other leaders including the Taoiseach need to learn that the democratic mandate of citizens has to be respected.

I reject any attempt by unionists, by Mícheál Martin, Joan Burton or Enda Kenny to disenfranchise our electorate. 

Sinn Féin voters have exactly the same rights and democratic entitlements as every other voters – no more and no less.

We will not be lectured to by Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil or patronised by Labour or the unionist parties.

They need to wake up to the reality that Sinn Féin is here and Sinn Féin is here to stay.


Sinn Féin’s Priorities

So, today is about setting out some of our republican priorities.

It’s about the future, about what type of country and society we want to live in, about equality, and the type of recovery we want.

The type of Ireland Sinn Féin wants to see is a United Ireland and a society based on the right to: 

Decent work for decent pay.

Access to first class public services.

Affordable childcare.

Abolition of water charges and making the tax system fair.

Addressing the housing crisis.

Advancing the all-Ireland economy for all our benefit

A new deal to deliver jobs and services for rural Ireland 

The type of Ireland Sinn Féin wants to see is one which is inclusive, pluralist and welcoming.

Sinn Féin welcomes yesterday's announcement by the Minister for Justice to accommodate 4,000 refugees.

However, the fact that some refugees are to be put into the disgraceful and utterly discredited Direct Provision is shameful.

It is also at odds with what the government first promised.

The Government must not proceed on this basis. It flies in the face of the humanitarian outpouring that we have seen from citizens. 

Sinn Féin this week published our 10 point action plan to deal with the crisis and we have sent it to the Minister for her consideration.

Our current asylum system is outdated and must be amended in light of the current situation.

Direct provision is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped.

It must be replaced with a dignified, human rights based community setting, allowing people to work and be educated, and to become part of our society.

So we have work to do. 

There are big decisions facing the Irish people in the immediate period ahead.

Sinn Féin intends to engage with every community across this island as we move towards the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

Sinn Féin is about delivering on the ideals of the Proclamation.

Our aim is unite our country and our people in harmony and mutual respect, and to build a genuine republic with equality and social justice at its core.

We will do this by working with others to build an unstoppable momentum for positive political change across this island.

Go raibh maith agaibh."


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