The Week in Review
28 January-04 February 2016
Election `offers opportunity for real change’
On 3 February, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the dissolution of the Dáil.
Sinn Féin Leader, Gerry Adams TD, said the election provided `an opportunity for real change’ with a `choice is between two visions for Irish society’.
Current Fine Gael and Labour government had `presided over some of the most reprehensible policy decisions ever made by a Government in this State, and they have brought chaos to the lives of ordinary citizens’.
He said they had `cut child benefit, the back to school allowance, the respite care grant, 1.5 million home help hours, and they abolished the bereavement grant’. He said they had `promised a new health service’ but instead, `last year we saw the highest number of patients on trolleys since records began and we have the worst A&E waiting times in Europe’. The aim of the Government, if re-elected, would be to privatise healthcare, he warned.
Mr Adams said wages had been cut `and another generation forced into emigration’, while many were facing `excessive mortgages, Water Charges and a Family Home Tax’ whilst taxes were reduced for the wealthy.
He said the government had `refused to invest in house building, abdicating responsibility to developers and taking the side of landlords against tenants’.
However he said the election provided `an opportunity for real change’ whith a `choice is between two visions for Irish society’. This was between a Fine Gael led Government ‘that will deliver more of the same unfairness and inequality’, or a Sinn Féin led Government `that has a plan to deliver a fair recovery for all citizens, and put stability back into the lives of the average family’.
He said that Sinn Fein’s `first priority in Government will be to abolish Water Charges and the Property Tax, and take more than a quarter of a million people out of the USC net’.
He concluded: `Polling day is the citizens’ day, and the people have choices to make. I hope they choose for fairness and for genuine Republican politics. I hope they vote for Sinn Féin.’
‘We must move beyond recrimination’ – McGuinness
On 30 January Martin McGuinness said Irish society must learn to move beyond the politics of recrimination if the potential of peace is to be fully realised. The North’s Deputy First Minister was speaking at the Kinsale Peace Project today where he insisted that political maturity is needed across the island if our people are to be truly reconciled.
Mr McGuinness said the Irish peace process was `rightly held up as a beacon of hope for conflict situations across the globe’ and that he was `very proud of the role that my party has played in the success of that peace process’.
He said `Politics on this island and between Ireland and Britain have been transformed. We are in a far better place now than at any time in our painful history. However, we are still on a journey and I have long argued that the next phase of the peace process needs to be the reconciliation phase. That requires leadership and political maturity from all parties, right across the island.
`There needs to be an end to the politics of recrimination because that leads us nowhere. I have been in government with the DUP for eight years now, serving with Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and now Arlene Foster as First Minister. There was a time when the prospect of Sinn Féin and the DUP in government together was unthinkable but we have achieved that. We have shared power for almost nine years and the institutions have remained in place. The sky didn’t fall in.
He added `During all that time there hasn’t been one word of recrimination about the past between myself, Ian, Peter or Arlene. That is because we know that, in order to realise the potential of peace, in order to govern for the mutual benefit of our people, we must look to the future. Of course we can never forget the past but neither can we become prisoners to it. We have all suffered in the conflict and if we allow ourselves to get dragged into constant recrimination about the past, the only people that serves is those who would wish to drag us back there.
He said `I think all of us on the island need to learn that lesson. It’s ironic that much of the political and media recrimination today originates in this part of the island. It saddens me to say that and I often wonder what happened to the political maturity shown by people like Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern who put peace before party politics.
He concluded: `There needs to be a return to that kind of mature and responsible leadership. The prize of peace and a reconciled people on this island is far more important than the petty party politiciking that has become the primary feature of politics in this state over recent times.’
Irish Unity would remove barriers to economic growth – McElduff
On 30 January Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff said Irish Unity would result in `significant long-term improvement in Ireland’s economy by removing currency, trade and tax barriers that currently impede economic growth,.
Barry McElduff was speaking at a panel debate held in the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh this morning on a United Ireland. Other speakers included Tom Buchanan, DUP MLA, Solicitor Pat Fahy, Irish Language activists Linda Ervine and Sinéad Ní Mhearnóg, Independent Unionist MLA John McCallister and economist Michael Burke.
Barry McElduff said `These are important times in politics. We are facing into two elections north and south and the people want real change. Sinn Féin remains committed to delivering a new and better Ireland for all, to move beyond partition and disunity and to create a just, fair, prosperous and equal society.
`Irish Unity would result in significant long-term improvement in Ireland’s economy by removing currency, trade and tax barriers that currently impede economic growth. Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring all the people of Ireland can exercise their vote in a referendum on Irish Unity. A referendum on Irish Unity is not a threat to anyone. It is great opportunity for all of us irrespective of our opinions to carve out our future. This is about placing the future of Ireland in the hands of the people. We are stronger together than we can ever be apart.’
Representations of 1916 – Sinn Fein MP visits major photographic collection in London
Last week Sinn Fein Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy visited `Easter Rising 1916: Sean Sexton Collection’ at London’s Photographers’ Gallery. Curator Luke Dodd and the owner of the extensive collection of photographs, Sean Sexton, accompanied Mr Molloy around the exhibition.
The impressive collection investigates the role played by photography in informing the national consciousness that led to the rising, and examines the economic, social and political situation leading up to the rebellion and developments afterwards. The broad range of photographic documents mark the key events between the 1840s and 1930s. Particularly striking are the images of the devastation following the bombardment of O’Connell street, and the contribution of women as both photographers and active participants in the Rising and supporting accompanying struggles.
Large crowds have been packing into the Central London gallery since the exhibition’s opening last month – reflecting the interest around the centenary of the Easter Rising, provoking a broader interest in political developments in Ireland up to the present day. Sinn Fein MPs will be participating in a range of events to mark the Centenary throughout the year and across England, Scotland and Wales.
The Exhibition runs until 3 April, Photographers Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW.
Joint approach required to oppose Brexit – Kearney
On 29 January, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney said a joint approach from political parties and civic society was required to oppose a British exit from Europe.
Speaking at a conference on the issue, organised by Martina Anderson in Belfast, Mr Kearney said;
`The simple fact is that a Brexit is the opposite to the interests of local people. Those of us who recognise the dangers inherent in a Brexit now need to bring increased momentum to our arguments. Opposition to a Brexit needs to be expanded into widespread and representative common ground.’
He added `Those political parties, social partners and civic stakeholders who are of one mind on this issue across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England should coalesce and speak with one voice against Brexit. A joint civic and political platform opposing Brexit is required.’
`Here in the north, local political, business, trade union and other leaders should put a concentrated focus on creating such an alliance to inform public opinion, and begin a positive pro-active campaign highlighting the dangers of Brexit. An effectively mobilised body of popular opinion against Brexit particularly in the north of Ireland, Scotland and Wales could have a very decisive influence on the outcome of a British referendum.’
He concluded `Sinn Fein stands ready to play its part in taking forward this agenda with others in society.’