Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Cllr Bernice Swift (Fermanagh) - motion 13

18 February, 2006

Good Morning Delegates, Bernice Swift, SF, Erne West, Fermanagh asking you to support Ard Chomhairle 132 Motion

Poverty is a weapon which the powerful use against people they perceive to be weak.

The economic success of the 26 counties is to be welcomed, yet in reality we know that success is confined to a number of areas within a handful of counties, Leitrim's Celtic Tiger must have broken his neck in the Black Pig's Dyke and Mayo's was obviously drowned at birth, my own County, Fermanagh suffered poverty, social and economic deprivation as a direct result of partition.

The social contract currently sponsored by the two governments is quite simple, make money, not love, because if you want to have a child in this country you better have a good job.

Yet if you have a good job and a child, you'll find that you kissed your baby one morning as you dropped her to the crèche and didn't get to see her again until she was eighteen and you had to tell her she couldn't go to college because you'd spent all your money on keeping her in crèches and nurseries and after schools clubs and paying for e-voting devices and trams whose rails are cracking and medical systems that don't work.

The fundamental rights of the people on this island of Ireland which have been neglected by BOTH Governments North and South are the Right to a House, the Right to Health, the Right to Education and the Right to a Job.

It is a basic human right not to live in poverty. But currently far too many Irish people are living in poverty. As the Proclamation to the people of Ireland states, Œthe Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to purse the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing the children of the nation equally'.

If poverty is a weapon of the vested interests, stopping poverty is our way of fighting back.

I ask, what do the Governments on this island care about a rural man living on his own in county Leitrim or Fermanagh, whose farm is no longer viable, who maybe cared for his parents for twenty years without any support. Nothing at all.

What do they care about a single mother in Cork City or Belfast who can't get a job because she can't afford to pay for a crèche? Nothing at All.

And why? Because they think that because these people have no money, they have no power, well watch out, because Sinn Fein is empowering them.

I would ask this Ard Fheis to endorse a three step policy which will enable us to build an Ireland of equals. 1. We want to see accountability to those who are in the poorest economic circumstances, 2 the development of institutions of governance which will enable the voice of marginalized people to be heard and 3 to allow the rights of those groups in society to be addressed.

This motion also calls on the two governments to empower those whose rights are not currently vindicated to urgently establish an All-Ireland consultative civic forum.

Ireland has never generated more wealth and yet more people than ever feel marginalized and remain in poverty.

Combat Poverty produced a book in 2005 called Mapping Poverty: National Regional and County Patterns. Unsurprisingly the six counties is absent from their maps not because there is no poverty in the north but because the 26 county government turns a blind eye to what happens, "up there".

Equally unsurprisingly in the maps they do produce, it is the border area where poverty is at it's worst. Ranked highest in unemployment rates - the border area, ranked worst in educational attainment - the border area: Mayo and Donegal are in here with the highest unemployment rates, while Leitrim and Roscommon have the highest rates of people aged 65 and over living alone. The Mid-West meanwhile has the highest consistent poverty risk of any region while Dublin has the highest risk of deprivation in terms of the environment and housing deterioration.

Is it a sin to be poor? NO. Is it a great shame not to help the poor? YES.
Irish and British Governments - Hang your heads in shame!

Please support the Motion. Go Raibh maith Agaibh.

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