Derry, the town we love so well, is synonymous with the struggle for civil rights and equality. The people of this great city know the pain of conflict and division; today they, and we, look forward, in a time of peace, to reconciliation and new beginnings.
We all have a very personal vested interest in creating that new beginning.
We have the capacity, as people and a society, to listen, to debate and decide on those matters that matter most to our families, our communities, and to our country.
Our people have the talent and the tolerance to seize the opportunity now to transform Ireland.
Public service is about defending the public good, standing up for citizens on the basis of equality and facing down those that have a vested interest in division and disadvantage.
That is what Sinn Féin is all about.
Those that say that we are simply a party of protest don’t understand us and underestimate the people.whi in increasing numbers give us their support.
Those that criticise us as a party of idealistic rhetoric miss our determination to achieve and to change our country for the better.
Opponents that may sneer at us or discount our ambition for Ireland reveal only their own cynicism.
Sinn Féin is preparing for government, fit for government and ready to serve.
We will debate anybody; anywhere, any time.
I will debate anybody, anywhere, any time. Joan Burton challenged me to a debate, both Vincent Browne and RTE offered to facilitate the debate but Joan has changed her mind – Well Joan you know where to find me!
Minister Alan Kelly has vowed to rip us apart – we are quaking in our stilettoes!
We will not be distracted by macho posturing or aggressive, negative noise from the Labour party, from their Fine Gael bedfellows or from anywhere else.
Let the debates commence, let the Republican alternative be scrutinised and understood by one and all.
Our alternative is anchored in equality.
An equal chance to live and work at home in Ireland; equal access to education and health services, an equal start for all our children and all our families in their myriad of forms; The equal right to love, to be loved and to marry.
Our alternative is based on shared prosperity.
Creating wealth by investment in jobs, innovation and enterprise; sharing wealth through decent work, a living wage and social supports for citizens. IN other words a dynamic, productive economy and a robust welfare state
Our alternative is rooted in excellence.
That means aiming high, for first class public services and public administration, first class democratic institutions serving first class citizens – that is all of us, women and men, young and old, travellers and settled, people with disabilities, black and white, orange and green.
Our country can be the best little country in which to live and work, in which to invest and prosper.
We are here to do the business, to roll up our sleeves and to shape that country.
It is a big challenge.
Years of austerity and cutback governments have laid low the living standards and expectations of working people and their families. The marginalised, the working poor, the coping classes have borne the brunt of the economic bust and the lazy adherence to austerity of successive administrations.
Years of cronyism, corruption and mé féin governments have alienated citizens and left a bitter taste of disappointment.
Years of broken election promises and pledges torn up at the first opportunity have left the people wondering if anybody, any party can be trusted again.
Today, we pledge to the people that we will not make false promises to grab political power. We are not the Labour Party.
When we say that we will abolish water charges at the first opportunity we mean it. When we say that we will abolish property tax we mean that too.
We pledge today that we will not protect any privileged few at the expense of the many. We are not Fine Gael.
When we say that we will not allow banks to veto settlements with families struggling with debt and at risk of losing their homes we mean it.
Above all we pledge that we will not shy away from any decisions, or any of the tough negotiations necessary to put Ireland and our people first.
When we say that the bankers and speculators debt is not our debt, and when we challenge powerful EU institutions and the current government to lift the burden of that debt from the shoulders of the people - we mean it.
We will work with everyone who shares our ambition to build a real Republic, to bring about the new beginning for our people, to provide leadership and hope now.
We are preparing for government.
We are ready for the challenge.
We are ready to deliver.