"Sinn Féin will oppose right-wing PD policies" - Ó Caoláin
Commenting on the election of Michael McDowell as leader of the Progressive Democrats and prospective Tánaiste, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:
“Whoever occupies the leader’s position in the Progressive Democrats we in Sinn Féin will strongly oppose their right-wing policies. We will continue to work with all party leaders in government in the context of the peace process, including Michael McDowell. However, his accession to the PD leadership and the post of Tánaiste comes after a career that has been
characterised by an anti-republican approach which has been a negative influence in and out of Government.
“Minister McDowell has stated that inequality is a good thing for the Irish economy and none of his PD colleagues dissented from that view. Fianna Fáil has been happy to allow this right-wing agenda to determine the direction of the Government. The Fianna Fáil/PD administration has worsened inequality in our country, especially in our health services under the stewardship of outgoing PD leader and Tánaiste Mary Harney.
“As Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell has abused his position to carry out a witch-hunt against the Centre for Public Inquiry, refused to introduce rights-based disability legislation and presides over a grossly unfair immigration and asylum system. He has failed to live up to his human rights obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and has reinforced rather than dispensed with the draconian Offences Against the State Acts.
“As we approach a General Election it is worth remembering that the main plank in Michael McDowell’s election platform in 2002 was his anti-Sinn Féin tirade. This was a cynical exercise designed to win votes from a section of Fine Gael supporters. We may well see this competition again for a perceived anti-republican vote but Sinn Féin will be challenging the PDs on their appalling record in Government and presenting the real alternative to the right-wing rump now led by Michael McDowell.”