Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Martina Anderson - proposing on behalf of the Ard Comhairle motions 130, 133 and 135.

18 February, 2006

I believe these motions to be central to the whole course of the republican struggle as it must evolve, and as it has evolved over the past century. An Ireland of equals has to be based on the premise that All of us on this island, without regard to distinctions of religion, race, gender, simply in virtue of the fact that we are all human beings, have equal rights.

This is not the case in today's Ireland - in any part of it. Peoples' indisputable right to health, decent housing, education, a job and a right to be involved in making the decisions which affect them - these rights are not vindicated.

The rights of the travellers who live by the road side, with life expectancy 20 years short of the rest of us. Their human right, living as they do in one of the richest countries in the world, are not vindicated.

The right of the person who is sick to the best of treatment, who must instead take their painful place in the queue on a trolley of our hospitals, because there is no bed, their rights are not vindicated.

The right of the disabled, who must face the humiliation of being unable to access the building others can freely enter, their rights to live well, are not vindicated.

That is not our vision, nor was it the vision of 1916. The job of the state, of the government, is to protect the rights of all. The IG and BG have failed in this. We don't like their rule or their abusive governance.

The people of Ireland need to be enabled to participate in discussing what rights we want in this new Ireland. It is that process which we begun when we launched for discussion and consultation, our Rights for All Document.

The ANC conducted such consultations throughout their communities, to every village and township - to empower people to involve them in the discussion of a new South Africa, which would rid the state of the horror of Apartheid.

And then Sinn Fein launched proposals for a Green Paper, calling on the Government to begin to engage the people of this country in consultation around the shape of this New Ireland. They haven't done so. In fact they dismissed the very suggestion.

Our vision is not a narrow vision of a political party seeking power for itself, based on false promises. It is a vision which starts a process of empowerment of people - involving all us, whatever the differences, so carefully fostered by an alien government.

That is our campaign, to engage with all the people to enshrine the rights of all in a judiciable Bill of Rights for all Ireland and a forum for participatory governance where the current governments could not dismiss the need to consult - Imagine all that. These are the stepping stones to an Ireland of Equals.

I ask you to support these resolutions, to set us on this course of engagement of all the people in this country in building this New Ireland we have fought to achieve.

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