Week in Review
1-7 January 2016
2016 ‘a year for national renewal, hope and political progress’ – Adams
On New Year’s Eve Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams published a New Year message in the January issue of An Phoblacht. We reproduce his message in full below:
`The year ahead marks the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. This should be a time for national renewal, hope, and political progress across Ireland. The 1916 Proclamation is a clear statement of intent for an all-Ireland republic built on foundations of civil and religious liberty, social justice and equality for all citizens. It remains the guiding template for modern republicanism.
The promise of the Proclamation has yet to be realised. Ireland remains partitioned and a real republic, built on equality for all citizens, remains to be constructed. The Centenary year is a unique opportunity to begin the work of positively transforming Irish politics and society, to reflect the revolutionary vision of Easter Week.
2016 is also an election year, North and South. Sinn Féin will stand candidates on a progressive republican and anti-austerity platform across this island. In the South, citizens will have an important opportunity to get rid of this bad Fine Gael/Labour Government whose tenure has been marked by destructive austerity policies which have deepened social inequality. Sinn Féin is committed to delivering a fair recovery by working towards a progressive, republican government.
In the North, we will continue to stand up for working families, vulnerable citizens and the development of the economy and public services. The recent Fresh Start Agreement allows the political process and institutions to proceed on a new and stable basis. Sinn Féin is committed to resolving the issues of the past, supporting victims of the conflict and promoting reconciliation and healing.
We will continue to campaign for the return of more political powers and economic levers from London to the island of Ireland. However, the greatest safeguard against Tory misrule in the North is the peaceful ending of Partition and the building of an agreed, united Ireland a real republic. In this important year, working together, the people of Ireland can make important steps towards a genuine republic and a citizen-centred, rights based society. I wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year. Bliain úr faoi mhaise daoibh go léir.’
2016 offers `hope of a fresh start for everyone’
On 1 January, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness said 2016 offers `hope of a fresh start for everyone across Ireland’.
Speaking after a launch of the year of commemoration of the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin Castle, Mr McGuinness said 2016 was `an important year of commemoration as we mark the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme’.
He said both events were `landmarks in our history and marking these anniversaries respectfully and inclusively would display a real sense of political maturity’.
Mr McGuinness said that 2016 offered `hope of a new beginning to everyone across the island of Ireland’. He said `the men and women of Easter 1916 struck to achieve an all-Ireland republic built on civil and religious liberty, social justice and equality for all citizens’ and that their vision `remains hugely significant and precious to nationalists in the north’.
The centenary year was, he said `an opportunity to build on the vision of the Proclamation to cherish the children of the nation equally, including those who have fled wars and famine to find sanctuary here in Ireland’.
He said the recent agreement made offered `a fresh start for the political institutions in the North and we must build on that to ensure they deliver for everyone in the community’, concluding `there will be a lot of work to do and many challenges to face in the year ahead but I am committed to working constructively with others to ensure a positive year for all our people.’
Adams comments on released British government papers and Thatcher threat to Dundalk
On 30 December, Sinn Féin Louth TD and leader Gerry Adams commented on the release of government files in which British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asked the then Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, `what would you say if Dundalk were bombed?’.
Mr Adams said that as British Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher `knew intimately of the involvement of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) and its Special Branch, the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) and of British military and intelligence involvement in illegal and covert actions which killed Irish citizens.’
He said `collusion involving British state forces and unionist paramilitaries led to the deaths of hundreds of citizens on the island of Ireland. Eleven years prior to the meeting between Thatcher and Fitzgerald in Europe the British had already participated in the Dublin Monaghan bombings which killed 33. Almost exactly ten years before Thatcher’s query about bombing Dundalk, British state collusion had already led to the attack on Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk which killed Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters and wounded scores of others. Local man Seamus Ludlow was another victim of this British policy.’
Mr Adams went on to say `within two years of the meeting between Thatcher and Fitzgerald, the British government helped unionist paramilitary groups bring in hundreds of rifles, handguns, hand grenades and some rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) which resulted in a significant escalation in the sectarian murder campaign of the UDA, UVF, Red Hand Commando, and Ulster Resistance. Hundreds died, including members of Sinn Féin.’
He said the papers `make it clear that British government policy was primarily security driven. The Anglo Irish Agreement was essentially about securing greater Irish government support for this policy. On the back of a decision that the Ulster Defence Regiment would in future be accompanied by the RUC – a decision that was received with scorn from nationalists in the north – the Taoiseach announced that the ‘nationalist nightmare’ was over.’
He said the Irish government’s `short sighted policy helped sustain violence for years to come. It wasn’t until the Hume/Adams negotiations and the emergence of the Irish peace process that a new dynamic and a new opportunity was created to end violence.’
The Louth TD added: `The British government’s refusal to properly address the legacy of the past stems largely from its concern that the illegal actions of its military, intelligence and political leadership will be exposed. The Cameron government’s refusal to hold the Pat Finucane Inquiry or provide information in its possession on the Kay’s Tavern and other attacks in this jurisdiction, is to protect those who killed on its behalf and with its sanction.’
Time for action to combat discrimination and violence against women
On 6 January Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada addressing law students in Kerry said, `securing full equality for women and girls means closing the gender pay gap, seriously tackling domestic and gender-based violence, and rolling back on austerity measures, which disproportionately affect women’.
The Sinn Fein MEP said that latest figures from the European Commission showed that women in Ireland were paid 14% less than men. The pay gap had in fact `widened over the last number of years, which must be seen as a failure of government policy’, she said, adding `while other EU countries have developed and implemented strategies to tackle this issue, successive Irish government has presided over a worsening situation’.
She said that `services and supports for women experiencing domestic and gender-based violence have been cut over the past number of years. Rape crisis centres and women’s refuges are struggling to survive due to funding cuts, despite seeing an increase in demand. The recruitment embargo has effectively stalled our social care and family support services.’
Further cuts in the health service and welfare system had `disproportionately affected women, and the ever-growing housing crisis is hurting families’, she added.
She concluded: `slow progress towards equality and fairness made by Irish women is being rolled back under this Government as with the previous one. For all its talk of quality and recovery, it has little interest in improving the lot of women. The coming general election will give the Irish people an opportunity to bring about political change, and elect a fresh government, that will prioritise social services, fairness and equality. Sinn Féin is ready to lead such a Government.’
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Sinn Fein MPs and London Office wish Week in Review readers a very happy New Year