Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Adams calls on Government to prioritise debt cancellation and fair trade during EU Presidency

6 September, 2003


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking at the Munster EU election convention in Munster this afternoon gave delegates an update on the peace process and current contact with the Irish and British governments. He said that 'Without the British Government calling an election as soon as possible it would be impossible to accelerate to the process.' Mr. Adams then went on to congratulate David Cullinane on his selection as the party's EU for Munster which he described as the most important EU election that the party had ever faced. Addressing delegates Mr. Adams said:

"Four and a half years ago Sinn Féin set out a marker in Munster when Martin Ferris received 29,060 votes. And then last May we took one seat in Kerry and saw our vote increase massively in Cork, Waterford and Tipperary.

In the coming months the Irish government faces a series of important hurdles that will be the acid test of whether it is committed to a better Europe, a better world, a better Ireland.

Next week Foreign Minister Brian Cowen addresses the Leinster House Committee on Europe. he must spell out the Government's position on how it will use the coming Presidency to voice the social justice agenda so often overlooked in the corridors of power within the EU.

We want to hear the Government's plans for an EU Presidency that will put debt cancellation and fair trade at the centre of the EU agenda. We want the Irish Presidency to be a voice on social justice issues such as making cheap medicines available to developing countries. We want an Irish Government that is promoting nuclear disarmament, not letting its airports be used as a stopover for the international arms industry. We want to hear how the Kyoto accords will be implemented and when Europe's nuclear industry will be dismantled. We want to hear real plans that will guarantee a future for farming not just in Ireland or the EU but internationally.

Shortly after that on October 4th there will be a meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference where European leaders will be discussing the draft new EU Constitution. Again the Irish Government has to show leadership. There are some positive elements in the new draft constitution dealing with social and economic goals and with individual rights. These however are swamped with more powers for unelected EU institutions, with the same old story of no accountability, no transparency and no democracy and an EU more in tune with the needs of international business than the wants and desires of its own citizens.

The Irish Government as a voice for small states must make itself heard on these issues.They must also consult widely and fairly with the Irish people on the questions raised by the constitution. We need to have debate here in Ireland on what the voters think about issues such as more losses of the veto, of more powers for the EU Commission president, on what are the acceptable roles if any for a EU defence force to play.

The millions of people who took to the streets of Europe during the run up to the war in Iraq and the failure of the actual EU member governments to agree a common position on the war showed that there is a huge diversity of opinion on these issue throughout Europe. The Irish Government must allow debate on these issues. Sinn Fein must be there, campaigning systematically on these issues."ENDS

Full text

Last night I was in Tipperary for the launch of Paddy Hackett's new book and it was brought home to me the role that Munster has played over many years in the fight for Irish freedom. Building on the work of men and women like Tom Barry, Dan Gleeson, Ella O'Dwyer and Paddy Hackett we know the levels of support that we have across Munster and know the challenges that face us if we want to bring about an Ireland of equals.

I know that you are up to this challenge. Munster Sinn Féin is one of the fastest growing regions of the fastest growing political party in Ireland. Across Munster, Sinn Féin has been to the fore in campaigning on a wide range of issues including cuts in Public Services, the gross inequality in healthcare, the housing crisis, the future direction of Europe and the Irish peace process.

We in Sinn Féin are presenting the real alternative. We are committed to social and economic freedom for the people of Ireland. We are just as determined to achieve an Ireland where poverty and inequality are eliminated as we are to achieve an end to partition.

Sinn Féin - bringing an all-Ireland agenda to Europe

The next twelve months are likely to be dominated by events in Europe as Dublin takes over the Presidency of the EU, discussions conclude on the new EU Constitutions and elections to the European Parliament take place.

This is an important election for Sinn Féin, probably the most important EU election that we have ever faced. We have been a leading voice in the debate on the future direction of the European Union. We have debated the key issues in our communities, played a leading role in both Nice Treaty referendums and made a detailed submission on the draft European Union Constitution. I believe that people are responding to our message.

Last May I predicted that the story of the General Election would be the story of the rise of Sinn Féin and that places like Kerry North would be key to this. Next year I believe that the story of the European elections will again be the story of Sinn Féin when we secure our first ever representation in the European Parliament.

Four and a half years ago Sinn Féin set out a marker in Munster when Martin Ferris received 29,060 votes and we had such local government success across Cork, Kerry and in Tipperary. And then last May we took one seat in Kerry and saw our vote increase massively in Cork, Waterford and Tipperary. The hard work, the long hours and the dedication each Sinn Féin activist put into the campaign gave us this success.

Here in Munster you also played a key role in both Nice Treaty referendums. The many thousands of people who shared our concern that this Treaty would bring us closer to the creation of an EU superstate and an EU Army are looking to Sinn Féin as we enter into a defining period in Europe.

In Ireland we have a substantial role and responsibility in this period. It is not just in the context of the upcoming Presidency of the EU. As citizens, as republicans we need to make our voices heard and opinions felt in the coming months. The Sinn Féin vision of what Europe could be needs to be heard as widely as possible. It needs to be heard on the doorsteps as you canvas, on the posters you put up, at public meetings, on radio phone in shows, in the news columns and letter pages of local newspapers and not forgetting the political discussion chat rooms on the internet.

We need to make it clear that Sinn Féin wants to be part of a Europe where the core objectives are full employment, no homelessness or hunger or poverty. We want a Europe that uses its power for social justice inside and outside its borders. A Europe that is nuclear free, that leads the world in how it protects and enhances the environment.

In the coming months the Irish government faces a series of important hurdles that will be the acid test of whether it is committed to a better Europe, a better world, a better Ireland.

Next week Foreign Minister Brian Cowen addresses the Leinster House Committee on Europe. he must spell out the Governments position on how it will use the coming Presidency to voice the social justice agenda so often overlooked in the corridors of power within the EU.

We want to hear the Government's plans for an EU Presidency that will put debt cancellation and fair trade at the centre of the EU agenda. We want the Irish Presidency to be a voice on social justice issues such as making cheap medicines available to developing countries.

We want an Irish Government that is promoting nuclear disarmament, not letting its airports be used as a stopover for the international arms industry. We want to hear how the Kyoto accords will be implemented and when Europe's nuclear industry will be dismantled.

We want to hear real plans that will guarantee a future for farming not just in Ireland or the EU but internationally.

We want to hear that there is a future for places like Munster where lush farm lands, proud towns and cities can thrive together.

Shortly after that on October 4th there will be a meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference where European leaders will be discussing the draft new EU Constitution.

Again the Irish Government has to show leadership. There are some positive elements in the new draft constitution dealing with social and economic goals and with individual rights. These however are swamped with more powers for unelected EU institutions, with the same old story of no accountability, no transparency and no democracy and an EU more in tune with the needs of international business than the wants and desires of its own citizens.

The Irish Government as a voice for small states must make itself heard on these issues.They must also consult widely and fairly with the Irish people on the questions raised by the constitution. We need to have debate here in Ireland on what the voters think about issues such as more losses of the veto, of more powers for the EU Commission president, on what are the acceptable roles if any for a EU defence force to play.

The millions of people who took to the streets of Europe during the run up to the war in Iraq and the failure of the actual EU member governments to agree a common position on the war showed that there is a huge diversity of opinion on these issue throughout Europe. The Irish Government must allow debate on these issues.

Sinn Fein must be there, campaigning systematically on these issues.

Where do we go from here?

None of this can be achieved without greater political strength for Sinn Féin. In the local government and EU elections next year Sinn Féin will be presenting its largest ever number of candidates. We are determined to send strong teams of Sinn Féin councillors onto councils across Munster. And we are also determined to to bring success in the European elections.

This means a busy autumn and winter for everyone here. It means planning now at cumann level upwards how to get the best results possible next June. In the last decade Sinn Fein members have again and again been asked to raise their game, to do more and with each election the barrier has been raised. We know that at each time of asking we have reached beyond what we thought was possible and succeeded when our detractors sniped and frustrated our efforts.

Republicans in Munster have been at the leading edge of political struggle in Ireland for the last century. I know that in this new one they will continue that tradition, with new names, new stories yet to be added too this noble history.

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