Barry McElduff MLA West Tyrone - All Ireland Agenda
In particular I commend this section of the Ard Fhéis those motions before
us which set out to expand on the North / South commitments which have been
written into Strand Two of the Good Friday Agreement.
You will know that Sinn Fein has long since handed to the two governments our proposals for building on this aspect of the Agreement. It is heartening to note that other nationalist parties, including Fianna Fail and the SDLP have entered this debate with proposals of their own.
This is welcome indeed and I would urge all other nationalist parties throughout the country to stick with the All Ireland Agenda because it makes compelling sense in political terms and in social and economic terms.
The Health Agenda is one area where the seamless provision of services across and transcending the Border makes most sense. I would commend the work of the Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) organisation in this broad area but I would call on both governments to treat Ireland as one when planning the location of Acute Service hospitals and the likes of GP services along the Border Corridor.
Is anyone aware that 78,000 Irish people who live in the Border region live closer to a GP service in the so-called Œother jurisdiction' and yet are directed to the further GP services. Lifford and Strabane is a case in point, separated by one mile and a bridge.
I would call directly on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD to follow through on the recommendations of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution and extend voting rights in any future Presidential Election to all Irish citizens.
On 7 December last year I wrote to An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to appraise him of the fact that of the fifteen Gaelic Football All Stars selected last November at the City West Hotel, only four of those same All Stars would be allowed to vote in an Irish Presidential Election. Martin McGuinness has a good word for dismissing letters like this.
In addition, Sinn Fein has been lobbying intensively for northern participation in the political life of the nation. I would call on the Taoiseach to immediately rule on the matter of allowing the eighteen elected MPs in the Six Counties to attend and speak in the Dáil.
Delegates will know that Sinn Fein makes many demands on the Taoiseach. We demand a Green Paper for Irish Unity and we are not the only ones. I want to commend both Omagh District Council and Strabane District Council in West Tyrone - both Local Government Authorities are speaking with one corporate voice and have publicly declared for a United Ireland.
Both Councils have tabled and passed resolutions to this effect at their February meetings - only that there was a Taoiseach who would really stand up and deliver on the All Ireland Agenda.