Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Cllr Paul Butler - motion 145

18 February, 2006

In recent years the Irish government along with the PD's, Labour and Fine Gael have pandered to anti agreement unionists, turned a blind eye to discrimination and loyalist collusion, and abandoned beleaguered communities in Ardoyne, Short Strand and Garvaghy Road.

Sinn Féin has highlighted the discriminatory practices of the unionist-controlled local government councils in the six counties such as Lisburn and Ballymena. These local authorities stand as shining examples of how Unionists, without the constraints of power-sharing or equality provisions, will govern without any regard for the rights of nationalists.

Unionist-dominated councils have all been allowed to abuse their powers for many years without any sanction. The Irish government and the other political parties in the South have failed to challenge this discrimination. They have sat on their hands and turned a blind eye to unionist bigotry.

Whether it is discrimination in the provision of facilities for nationalist areas, or in the provocative display of British flags and emblems on Council-owned property, or the refusal to respect the rights of Irish language speakers, unionist discriminators have been permitted to continue, unhindered by the British government and without challenge or rebuke by parties in Leinster House.

Many of the worst manifestations of loyalist violence in recent years have been located within council areas where the unionist discriminators govern without restraint. By their actions, they have taught their loyalist support base to treat the local nationalist community with contempt, fostering a tolerance towards loyalist violence and anti-catholic sectarianism.

Within the past fortnight, I have dealt with nationalist families in a village called Stoneyford; where loyalists- facilitated by the PSNI- have been able to conduct a campaign of intimidation and terror against catholic families.

Last summer witnessed a sustained period of anti-Catholic attacks across the north Antrim area covered by a number of the unionist-controlled councils which have made discrimination and naked sectarianism their by-words. Yet there was a deafening silence from the Irish government in response to this sectarian campaign.

Local authorities in the 26 counties also need to seriously re-consider any associations they may have with Discriminators. We in Lisburn are lobbying Kildare County Council to officially end their association with Lisburn Council. Lisburn Council should not be rewarded with trips to Kildare. We call on other Councils to follow our lead.

The Good Friday Agreement promised a new era of equality, power-sharing and the right to live free from sectarian intimidation and harassment. Across the north, in unionist-dominated council areas, the experience of local Catholic communities is a far cry from that promised by the Agreement.

The unionist discriminators must be faced down. It is time for the Irish government and Opposition parties to raise their voices. They need to be reminded that the Irish nation does not stop at the border. Support Sinn Féin's demands for Equality Now.

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