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Election a political fight back against attack on rights – O’Neill

21 May, 2017 - by Michelle O'Neill


Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said today that the current election is a political fight back and a call to action as rights are under attack. 

Michelle O’Neill was speaking at the launch of Michelle Gildernew’s election campaign to take back Fermanagh South Tyrone at the Manor House Hotel this afternoon.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“This election is a political fight back. This is a call to action because our rights are under assault.

“We have to fight back against the reckless and dangerous policies of the self-serving Tory government in London which is about forcing a disastrous Brexit on the North and dragging us against our will from the EU.

“Everyone here knows the impact that will have on our business, trade, agri-food, tourism and other sectors of the economy, with the imposition of trade tariffs, a border and denying people the freedom of movement North and South.

“It will severely undermine the progress of the past 20 years.

“The people of the North don’t want Brexit. It is unacceptable.

“They don’t want Tory cuts. 

“They will not tolerate inequality and discrimination or second class citizenship for anyone – women, LGBT, Irish speakers, ethnic minorities – because an attack on one, is an attack on us all.

“The people want fairness and equality. 

“They want Irish Unity. 

“And that’s the message we need to send at this forthcoming Westminster election ‪on June 8th.
 ENDS/CRÍOCH

Full text of Michelle O’Neill’s speech to the launch of the Fermanagh South Tyrone Election Launch

SUNDAY, 21ST MAY 2017

“A chairde agus a comradaithe,

It is great to see such a great gathering this afternoon for the official launch of the Sinn Féin campaign here in Fermanagh/South Tyrone and of our Westminster candidate Michelle Gildernew.

Today marks the countdown to victory when we retake the MP seat here in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

This election, as with the last one in March, is all about defending our democratic rights.

Real change only happens when ordinary people get involved and stand up for their rights, organise those around them and win those rights.

The Gildernew family has been to the fore of fighting for civil rights since 1968 until this day and that is why the best candidate to fight and win this seat and to be the progressive voice of a modern, republican and rights based society is Michelle Gildernew.

This election was called by the British Prime Minister Theresa May for all the wrong reasons.

It is only in the self-interests of the Tory party who have no regard whatsoever for the people of the North, our interests or our future.

But it offers us a hugely important opportunity to again have our say. 

An opportunity to strongly reject Brexit. 

To reject the border. 

To reject any attempt to put limits on our freedom of movement. 

To reject barriers to agriculture and trade. 

To reject Tory cuts.

This is an opportunity to reject Theresa May and her local allies in the DUP and Tom Elliot who all want to hold this society down and hold us back.

It is possible for the north to stay in the EU through designated special status and I and other senior leadership have been on a diplomatic offensive arguing this case among the EU27 who will determine the British exit terms from the EU.

We can make it absolutely clear that we want unity and prosperity on this island with no borders whatsoever - hard or soft.

We made history together in the March Assembly election because we rallied the people and they responded to our call.

Sinn Féin won the support of over 224,000 people – a mighty achievement.

This is a pivotal time for our party but more importantly, for progressive republican politics in Ireland, which deliver social, economic and constitutional change. 

This will be another ground-breaking election for Sinn Féin.

And it is the people in this room who are going to make it happen.

The recent Assembly election has activated a transformation unimaginable to the founders of the Northern state.

We must keep this momentum going.

Irish unity is now firmly on the agenda and rights and equality have been put at the top of the political agenda.

It is of critical importance that Sinn Féin actively seeks to win social, economic and cultural rights for everyone. 

The best way to do that is to work in tandem with those who are denied those rights and change the status quo.

I am confident that as the consequences of Brexit become clearer more and more people from a unionist background will be open to the idea of exploring new relationships on this island. 

We need to be intelligently putting the argument for unity and for a referendum as set out in the Good Friday Agreement. 

In this election we will stand against Brexit, stand against a border and against Tory cuts.

We will stand up for equality, for rights and for Irish unity.

And we will send a clear message to Theresa May and her Tory cabinet of millionaires that they have no mandate in Ireland - that they do not speak for us.

They want to ignore the result of the Assembly election just as they are ignoring the result of the EU referendum.

Fixty-six percent of the people here voted to remain in Europe but Theresa May, Arlene Foster and Tom Elliot want to drag us out of the EU against our will.

They can’t be allowed to succeed because Brexit will be a disaster for our economy. 

It will be a disaster for local business, for farmers and the wider agri-food industry, for the health service, for workers’ rights and border communities like Cavan/Fermanagh and Tyrone/Monaghan.

So this election is a political fight back. This is a call to action because our rights are under assault.

We have to fightback against the reckless and dangerous policies of the self-serving Tory government in London which is about forcing a disastrous Brexit on the North and dragging us against our will from the EU.

Everyone here knows the impact that will have on our business, trade, agri food, tourism and other sectors of the economy, with the imposition of trade tariffs, a border and denying people the freedom of movement North and South.

It will severely undermine the progress of the past 20 years.

The people of the North don’t want Brexit. It is unacceptable.

They don’t want Tory cuts. 

They will not tolerate inequality and discrimination or second class citizenship for anyone – women, LGBT, Irish speakers, ethnic minorities – because an attack on one, is an attack on us all.

The people want fairness and equality. 

They want Irish Unity. 

And that’s the message we need to send at this forthcoming Westminster election ‪on June 8th.

So folks, thanks you for listening - we will not be denied, deterred or defeated in our fightback and the retake of Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

Míle buíochas,

Maith sibh agus go raibh maith agaibh go léir.”

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