The Week in Review
18-25 February 2016
Friday’s election can be the people’s rising – Gerry Adams TD
On 24 February, with two days until polling day, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams told the party’s final press conference of the election campaign there was `no difference between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour’, and urged people to `Come out and vote for hope, vote for change, vote for Sinn Féin.’ He said Friday’s election could be `the people’s rising’.
Mr Adams said there were `two Irelands out there – one for the privileged and one for the rest of us’. He said Sinn Féin was `clear in our vision – unlike Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil we will not give tax breaks to the wealthy’ but would `use the tax revenue to build a universal health care system, to build homes, to invest in education and protect the vulnerable’.
Sinn Fein would `end water charges, and the family home tax, reduce class sizes, recruit more doctors, nurses, GPs, midwifes and teachers, end prescriptions charges, end student fees and cap child care costs at €150 a week’, he said.
He said the election was about `political choices – a choice between tax breaks for the wealthy or investment in services and jobs’. Friday `can be our 1916 Rising, an entirely peaceful one’, he said, urging people to `reclaim the republic’.
He concluded that Friday was the chance to `seize this opportunity, to elect a new progressive government led by Sinn Féin under the Right2Change Principles’.
You can read Sinn Fein’s election manifesto in full here.
For the vast majority of people there is no recovery
Earlier, on 21 February, Gerry Adams said that `the vast majority of people are not experiencing any recovery’. Speaking after some tens of thousands took to the streets to protest as part of the Right2Water protest, he said that it was clear many knew it was `wrong that elderly people are languishing on hospital trolleys… that children are growing up in hotel rooms [and] that families cannot make ends meet’.
He condemned this as `consequences of the policies of Enda Kenny, Joan Burton and Micheál Martin’. He said that `if €4 billion is taken out of the tax system, the consequences will be more elderly people on hospital trolleys, more children in emergency accommodation, and more families struggling to survive’. Sinn Féin, he said, believed that `instead of taking €4 billion out of the tax net, Sinn Féin will fix the chaos in our hospitals, will end homelessness, and will ease the burden on families.’ He concluded: `We don’t need to live in an unequal society. Every family has a right to share in the recovery. That is what Sinn Fein will fight for.’
Election `opportunity to change things for the better’ – McGuinness
On 21 February Martin McGuinness was speaking in Dublin where he joined the party’s election campaign. He said that the election have people `the opportunity to change things for the better, and Sinn Féin want to be part of that change.’
He said that for the first time `in all our lifetimes’ there was the opportunity `to have Sinn Féin in government north and south’. Sinn Fein Governments would, he said `stand up for equality’ and `deliver a fair recovery’. They would be `governments with a plan for unity and reconciliation… to sustain the peace process [and] act in the national interest’.
He said events of the last year had seen, `during critical talks, the leader of Fine Gael reduced his role to that of a by-stander and the Fianna Fáil leader intervened to call for the suspension of the institutions’. This, Mr McGuinness said, was `highly reckless and clearly done for short term political opportunism’, adding `the peace process is far too important for that to happen ever again’.
Sinn Fein was `now delivering on the Fresh Start agreement and making progress’. He said the electorate `now has the choice’ either to `stick with the parties of boom, bust and broken promises or seize this moment in time, to elect a progressive republican government’.
Right2Change candidates `can change the face of politics in Ireland’
On 19 February Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan urged all those supporting the Right2Change principles to attend the Right2Water march the following day in Dublin. Ms. Boylan said the demonstration was an opportunity to show the government their continued opposition to the domestic water tax and to Irish Water.
She said it was also the opportunity for people to `show their support for over 100 Right2Change candidates running in the general election’. She said `for eighty eight years the right-wing parties in this state, occasionally propped up by their sister party Labour, have been in government’, adding `we now have a real chance to elect a progressive left government next week. We should seize it’.
She concluded: ‘Let’s mobilise tomorrow and show this government that people are ready to make the change and end the status quo.’
Sinn Féin will campaign vigorously to stay in the EU – McGuinness
On 20 February, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness said the island of Ireland had `benefited greatly as a result of membership of the European Union’ and that this could be felt `daily across all sections of our society and many organisations and groups have directly benefited from EU funding’.
He said the agriculture and agri-food industry `have gone from strength to strength with the help of EU Single Farm Payments’ and that the EU `has also supported key infrastructure projects and boosted our economy through peace and structural funds’.
He said it had been `a key supporter of the progress made in the peace and political processes over the last two decades’. Businesses, industry, the agricultural sector and community and voluntary organisations `have made it clear that they want to continue to avail of the huge opportunities that exist as a result of our EU membership’, he added.
He concluded: `the future of Ireland north and south is within the European Union and Sinn Fein will be campaigning vigorously to stay in’
Sinn Fein chair urges `Civic and political platform’ for campaign to remain in EU
On 22 February, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney called for a wide civic and political platform `to make the case for the North to remain in the European Union’.
Mr Kearney said there was `a positive case which needs to be made and heard about our future relationship with the EU which side lines the negative arguments of those who have nothing but fear to offer’. He said it was `clear’ Ireland’s place was in Europe and the case for a British exit from Europe is being driven by a “little Englander” isolationist agenda which has everything to do with internal divisions in the British Tory party and nothing to do with the interests of the business and farming sectors and working people in the north of Ireland’.
He said the EU represents `a market of 500 million citizens in which to promote our exports and encourage investment’ and that the North of Ireland was `a strategic gateway for north American foreign direct investment and our EU membership is key to maximising that investment’.
He concluded: `the collective focus of all of those who recognise the importance of winning the case for remaining in Europe should be to build a civic and political platform on that positive agenda.’