Agreement a welcome step, but more work to do - Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said in the Dáil this afternoon that the recent agreement in the North is a positive and much welcome step, but more work remains to be done.
Deputy Adams said:
“On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to welcome the recent Agreement in the North and commend all those who worked hard to bring it about.
“The recent negotiations were necessitated by Unionist rejection of the Stormont House Agreement and the failure of the British and Irish Governments to implement outstanding commitments.
“In addition, the British Government attempts to implement their austerity agenda on a society emerging from decades of conflict, division and under-investment was not acceptable to Sinn Féin.
“The additional money secured in the agreement will allow the Executive to minimise the worst excesses of British Government austerity.
“This includes €834 million over the next four years to support working families and citizens in need, and an extra €877 million of funding secured to support the unique needs of a society emerging from conflict and division, and an economy that faces a legacy of under-investment and Partition.
“Sinn Féin rejects the notion that cutting welfare and public services is good for the economy. Similar policies in this State have seen a rise in inequality and poverty, resulted in the current A&E crisis, and a rise in homelessness to unprecedented levels.
“We stand for investment, fairness and equality, and proper public services on all parts of this island. We also believe that the continued operation of the political institutions is the best way to build an anti-austerity campaign, maintain control over public services, grow the economy and support those most in need.
“Citizens support the political institutions and want them to work, but constant crises and lack of progress has understandably frustrated and disillusioned many, including members and representatives of Sinn Féin.
“As I have said many times, the Taoiseach needs to have a more proactive interaction with the British Prime Minister and the Government needs a clear and consistent strategic plan of engagement for the North.
“Fianna Fáil for its part called for the suspension of the institutions. There is no sense at all to that proposition. Let us be clear, without last week's agreement, the door would have been open for a return to British direct rule and the full weight of a Tory assault on the welfare state.
“We should ask those in favour of the institutions collapse do they really want to let the Tories impose water charges, increase student fees, impose prescription charges, end free travel for pensioners and slash public services in the North?”
“That would be a likely consequence if the talks had failed, or if the institutions had been suspended.
“Sinn Féin will not hand over the political institutions and hard-won agreements to the Tories.
“We wanted a more comprehensive agreement, and we did our best to get that, but others were not prepared to deal with all the issues at this time.
“Tragically, the intransigence of the British Government in defending its state security apparatus by denying victims access to the truth means conflict legacy issues have not been resolved.
“I know that many victims groups are deeply disappointed with this outcome. Many of them have been campaigning for decades. Some like the Ballymurphy families, the Finucane family and the victims of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings have been campaigning for as long as thirty or forty years.
“When I raised these matters with the Taoiseach yesterday, he drew our attention to the way U2 have publicised the campaign for the ‘Justice for the Forgotten’. I agree with the Taoiseach on this - in fact U2 have done more internationally to highlight ‘Justice for the Forgotten’ that his Government.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support working families, vulnerable citizens, the economy and public services, and seek the return of more powers and economic levers from London to the island of Ireland. The Government and all parties here should support this.
“As we approach the centenary of 1916, those of us who want a United Ireland need to be active persuaders of that vision, both with the British Government and our Unionist neighbours, along with defending the process of change, the political institutions and the primacy of politics.”