Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney addresses GUE/NGL conference in Lisbon
Sinn Féin National Chairperson and South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney is attending a GUE/NGL conference in Lisbon today (Saturday 21 October), which will consider unfolding economic and political developments across the European Union. He will deliver a speech on the theme 'The Challenge of Austerity & Brexit: Towards an Ireland and Europe of Equals.'
On the challenge of austerity Declan Kearney said:
“A new phase of political change has arrived; Brexit is a strategic moment.
“We are asking that the significant influence of the left in Europe and wider international community mobilises to assist us in building opposition to both Brexit and austerity.
“In Ireland, the Southern state is pointed to as the ‘poster child’ for austerity.
“The northern state remains gripped in an austerity crisis caused by the British Conservative government’s reduction of that region's public expenditure settlement.
“Sinn Féin has been the main force of opposition against austerity in Ireland.”
Declan Kearney made the case for Designated Special Status for the north within the EU, but he will say that Europe needs to change.
“The Brexit decision highlights again the contradiction and undemocratic nature of Ireland’s partition. The North of Ireland like Scotland, voted to remain in the EU.
“Against this backdrop, Sinn Féin believes an unprecedented opportunity exists to advance the democratic argument for an end to Ireland’s partition and to persuade for Irish unity both domestically and internationally.
“Sinn Féin believes Ireland’s place is in Europe, but that Europe needs to change.
"We look to comrades on the left and progressive civic opinion in Europe to support the strategic objective of getting Designated Special Status for the north of Ireland.
“Just this week Sinn Féin with the support of GUE-NGL launched crucial legal opinion in Brussels confirming that there is no legal impediment to the introduction of Designated Special Status.
“In the post-Brexit context that is the only way to protect the peace process; Irish national interests; economic opportunity; and to defend workers and social, democratic and human rights.”
The Sinn Féin chairperson also told the conference that time is running out for the DUP and the British government to end their denial of rights in the north.
"At this time, the fourth phase of talks since last March aimed at resolving the current political crisis is underway.
“However, time is running out for the DUP and British government to decide whether they are prepared to end their denial of rights and implement previous agreements, as basic requirements of a deal to establish sustainable and credible government in the north.
“If the political institutions cannot be re-established on the basis of equality, rights and respect then the British and Irish governments must bring forward a comprehensive plan which fully implements the Good Friday and subsequent agreements, and ensure the rights of all citizens are upheld." ENDS/CRÍOCH