Sinn Féin sets out radical agenda to transform Local Government
Speaking today at the launch of the Sinn Féin local government manifesto in Belfast Castle, party President Gerry Adams said that the party was standing its largest local government team in this election. Mr Adams said:
"Sinn Féin is standing its largest ever team for the Local Government elections.
"We are standing 182 candidates across 24 councils. Almost one third of our candidates are women and 78 are standing for the first time.
"Sinn Féin has 234 Councillors across Ireland - 108 Councillors in the North and 126 in the South. As the only all-Ireland party our aim, in the time ahead is to have representation on every local council in Ireland.
"We will use our mandate to advance the peace process, build for Irish unity and bring forward real social and economic change. We will use our mandate to build a radical alternative.
"Joining me this morning are former Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey, Councillor Francie Molloy who currently holds the position of President of NILGA, Valerie Leonard who standing for the first time in Coleraine, James McKeown in Larne and Breige Meehan in Newtownabbey.
"Without singling out individual councillors or council groups, those Sinn Féin members who have taken on leadership roles, mayors and chairs, and represented by those here today, have sought to use these positions, not for personal gain or advancement, but to provide effective and courageous political leadership.
"Whether that be reaching out to unionist communities, or challenging racism in our society, or simply opening up the council chambers to ordinary citizens Sinn Féin has delivered real and meaningful change.
"This document is about building upon all of that work and setting out in very clear terms our agenda for the next four years."ENDS
Sinn Féin Councilor and former Lord Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey has called on the electorate to judge Sinn Féin on its record on Local Councils across the north and to allow us to continue to deliver our agenda for change.
"In the 22 years since Sinn Féin Councilors were first elected to local authorities in the north the face of local government, in many areas, has been transformed.
Sinn Féin is leading the way in:
- Delivering quality services to all on the basis of equality
- Promoting power-sharing and ensuring fairness in the allocation of Chairs and Deputy Chairs on Councils, Council Committees and in representation on external bodies
- Tackling discrimination within Councils and across society
- Promoting all-Ireland co-operation
"We have provided genuine civic leadership in bringing forward positive proposals - promoting equality, tackling discrimination and sectarianism, challenging racism and promoting good community relations and on remembrance.
"Sinn Féin Councilors have provided, and will continue to provide, strong local representation - working with communities to bring about change and to ensure that local councils deliver for local people.
"We have demonstrated responsibility and vision - acting in the best interests of all those they represent in bringing forward innovative solutions to difficult issues, campaigning for employment and tackling social exclusion and fighting against the privatisation agenda and unjust double taxation like water rates.
"Despite the progress that has been made, much more needs to be done."
Sinn Féin MLA and President of NILGA Councillor Francie Molloy said a vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for a party committed to transforming Local Government so that it delivers for local communities.
Mr. Molloy said:
This is a hugely challenging time for local government. The ongoing Review of Public Administration provides an opportunity to strengthen the powers of local government and to make local councils must more radical, effective and accountable.
"Our Local Government manifesto sets out the priorities for our councillors. It puts forward our positions on a range of social and economic issues of vital importance such as democracy on Councils, promoting reconciliation, delivering quality services, opposing water charges, supporting major changes to waste disposal strategies and a range of initiatives to make local government more relevant.
"Copies of it will be distributed to community groups, NGOs and the people we work with every day.
Among our main priorities are:
- Legislation to ensure fairness in the allocation of Chairs and Deputy Chairs on Councils, Council committees and nominations to external bodies for elected representatives.
- Continue to argue for the highest quality public services and oppose the creeping privatisation of public services
- Promoting reconciliation at council level and in local communities
- A continuation of EU Social and Regional Funds, and in particular the Peace Programme to continue post-2006
- Irish Language Officers to be appointed to local councils to spearhead and provide support for Irish Language projects, in line with the highly successful approach adopted by Newry & Mourne Council
- A significant increase in the number of new house building allocations for rural areas
- A properly resourced and effective waste management strategy -based on waste reduction, re-use and re-cycling
- The rejection of any form of incineration, as a means of waste disposal
- Oppose the proposed imposition of the unfair double tax on water
- The Housing Executive should play a leading role in the building and supply of social housing
- Opposing cuts to vital frontline services in education