Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Anderson addresses AKEL conference

3 December, 2015 - by Martina Anderson MEP


Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will today address a conference in Cyprus to discuss the Cyprus problem with leaders of the left-wing political party, AKEL.

The conference is attended by numerous MEPs from right across Europe, including Greece, Germany, Portugal and the Basque Country.

Speaking at the conference, Ms Anderson said,

"There are many similarities between Cyprus and Ireland. Both are island nations that has suffered from foreign occupation, conflict and the legacy of partition.

"We  have also had a calibre of proud activists, those who stood up for Cyprus, those who stood up for Ireland, fighting to right the wrong done onto them and our peoples.  

 "A 30 year conflict resulted in over 25,000 republican prisoners serving a cumulation of over 100,000 year's imprisonment. During that period 10 brave Irishmen died on hunger strike. The relevance of the 1981 Hunger Strike to our current situation cannot be overstated. This quantified a surge in support for the Republican movement and brought international attention to our struggle - and long live international solidarity. 

"Finally in 1998, multi-party peace negotiations led to the Good Friday Agreement and ended decades of armed rebellion in the north. The Good Friday Agreement provided a power-sharing template of equality, human rights and inclusion which – for the first time – allows the peaceful transition to a new and better all-Ireland nation, in a unified political framework.

The MEP for the North of Ireland continued,

"Today we, in Sinn Féin, are still battling politically to end the injustice of partition and to re-unify Ireland – politically, territorially, economically and culturally. But we are not merely fighting the legacy of Britain’s political colonisation.  We are also today battling the scourge of an equally poisonous economic imperialism.

"The changes that Irish republicans have achieved in battling political colonisation are now inspiring the hopes of an entire island nation, citizens who were – in recent decades - sacrificed on the altar of international greed and neo-liberal economics.

"I wish today that we stand together, stand unified as proud "progressive" nationalists who stand up for our people as dedicated internationalists who believe that our collective solidarity is the responsibility of humanity. 

"AKEL and Sinn Féin seek to advocate for the interests of our people and we fundamentally understand that economic, social and political self-determination is the only way in which this can be credibly done. 

"Whilst our struggles are different, our aims and our intentions are similar. In Sinn Féin we believe unity is the basis of future strength and whilst we have a job of work left to do - we can do it together." ENDS

FULL TEXT OF SPEECH BELOW

There are many similarities between Cyprus and Ireland.

Both are island nationals that suffered from legacy of partition, foreign occupation and conflict

We also have had a calibre of proud Activists, those who stood up for Cyprus, those who stood up for Ireland, fighting to right the wrong done onto them and our peoples.  

I want to refer to is a great Irish man called James Connolly who was one of the greatest labour and socialist Activists of the 20th century.  

He was active for workers; active for Unions; active internationally; and most of all, active for Ireland.

He was one of the leaders of our nation’s great rebellion in 1916, the Easter Rising. 

That uprising finally began to break Britain’s colonial stranglehold on our great nation – a struggle we continue and celebrate politically today and we will mark with pride the 100th anniversary next year.

The 1916 Easter Rising rebellion happened after 700 years of British military occupation; of the Irish language being suppressed; of Irish names being made illegal; of Irish land being stolen and sold; of Irish people being brutalised and exiled; of English laws, and customs, and religion, and titles being enforced.

Irish people fought back fearlessly.  

They had risen on many occasions in previous centuries - uniting across their social and class differences to rebel against Britain’s colonial aggression.

But in 1916 – with Connolly and his comrades – a new and unbeatable phase began in the long and unfinished march for national freedom.

We, in my party, Sinn Féin, were founded 1905. 

In that respect, we’re more like the ‘old left’, rather than the ‘new left’.

We are the oldest political party in Ireland. 

We are now the largest political party across the island of Ireland.

And we are the only major political party which is active and represented in every forum across the entire island.

Our leaders fought and died in 1916.  They established the 1916 Proclamation promising to “cherish all the children of the Nation equally”.

 In 1918, they created the first all-Ireland national parliament. 

They fought the British to a stand-still until negotiations were reached in 1921, leading to the partition of Ireland which created the two separate states of the ‘Republic of Ireland’ and ‘Northern Ireland’.

Some Irish people settled for a partitioned Irish nation: twenty-six counties gained their political independence from Britain.

The remaining six counties became the new state of ‘Northern Ireland’ – a state into which I was born.  ‘Northern Ireland’ or as prefer the occupied six counties was retained in British hands, to protect British economic, political, security and sectarian interests in Ireland.

It was based on structural discrimination, systematic oppression and one-party British unionist rule.

In 1969 civil rights protesters had their heads smashed as people like my mother took to the streets demanding their civil and political rights. 

Initially their reaction was not revolution, it was a revolt.  

The British establishment's reaction provoked the IRA to mobilise in secret and with defence being the strongest dynamic, it knew that defence needed guns.

After internment with hundreds of people imprisoned without trial, the IRA moved into the offensive and the rest is history. 

A 30 year conflict resulted in over 25,000 republican prisoners serving between us over 100,000 year's imprisonment. 

During that period 10 brave Irishmen died on hunger strike. The relevance of the 1981 Hunger Strike to our current situation cannot be overstated.

During the Hunger Strike, Belfast man Bobby Sands was elected to the British House of Commons as MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

His comrade Kieran Doherty was elected to the Dáil, the Irish Parliament.

This quantified a surge in support for the Republican movement and brought international attention to our struggle - and may long live international solidarity. 

Finally in 1998, multi-party peace negotiations led to the Good Friday Agreement and ended decades of armed rebellion in the north.  

I was released that year after spending 13 and a half years in British prisons for my role in the armed struggle. 

My wonderful husband, Paul Kavanagh, was released the following year, after almost 16 years in British prisons.

The Good Friday Agreement provided a power-sharing template of equality, human rights and inclusion which – for the first time – allows the peaceful transition to a new and better all-Ireland nation, in a unified political framework.

Today we, in Sinn Féin, are still battling politically to end the injustice of partition and to re-unify Ireland – politically, territorially, and culturally.

But we are not merely fighting the legacy of Britain’s political colonisation.  We are also today battling the scourge of an equally poisonous economic imperialism.

The changes that Irish republicans have achieved in battling political colonisation are now inspiring the hopes of an entire island nation, citizens who were – in recent decades - sacrificed on the altar of international greed and neo-liberal economics.

We, in Sinn Féin, are leading the charge for change across the two political jurisdictions of Ireland’s partitioned states – both of which have been crippled by conservative capitalist economics.

We are the only political party in the European Left which is simultaneously fighting the agenda of austerity in two separate political institutions in two different states with two different currencies, whilst constantly promoting a peace process of ongoing transition away from armed conflict. 

Those realities present us with some of the greatest practical and political challenges faced by any of our comrades on the European Left.  But they are challenges we are meeting directly.

In ideological terms, the European Left must embrace its collective responsibility to confront the austerity agenda of conservative and neo-liberal capitalism. 

We must develop effective internationalist alternatives which deliver compelling opposite outcomes focused on the needs of citizens.     

In practical terms, we must ensure that we now deliver real change – not just slogans. 

Sometimes that will mean tough choices, strategic compromises and long struggles. 

Unfortunately, there is no blank sheet from which to start writing tomorrow’s new economic direction. 

We are where we are.   But we also know where we are going – and that certainty means we can achieve anything using our imagination, creativity, collectivism, and ideological determination.

In each of these challenges, the greatest strengths possessed by the European Left - are unity and solidarity.    

Unity is a core tenet of Sinn Féin.

In domestic Irish politics, we are leading the development of an Irish Left coalition where we want to unite progressive parties, trade unions and social activists under one set of practical objectives that we could collectively deliver in a new government.    

In Sinn Féin we believe unity is the basis of future strength.

I wish today that we stand together, stand unified as proud "progressive" nationalists who stand up for our people as dedicated internationalists who believes that our collective solidarity is the responsibility of humanity. 

Whilst our struggles are different, our aims and our intentions are similar. 

AKEL and Sinn Fein seek to advocate for the interests of our people and we fundamentally understand that economic, social and political self-determination is the only way in which this can be credibly done. 

We have a job of work left to do - but we can do it together. 

A phrase from Ireland which I will leave you with is;

Tiocfaidh Ar La.

It means our day will come and it certainly will for both Cyprus and Ireland. 

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