The Week in Review
28 April – 05 May 2017
Sinn Féin Westminster Election Campaign Launch
Yesterday evening, Sinn Féin launched its Westminster Election campaign in Newry. The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams issued a challenge to the DUP and UUP on their support for Brexit and accused them of ignoring the damage it will do to jobs and business.
Mr Adams noted that while the election had been called to serve “narrow right wing English Tory interests”, it nonetheless provided “an opportunity to put forward our alternative and to point out that the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party are ignoring the vote of the people of the North – their people.”
The Sinn Féin leader continued: “June’s election provides an opportunity to take our republican vision; message of hope in the future, of unity, reconciliation and peace out to the electorate. To raise again the right of citizens to equality and parity of esteem and to fundamental human rights. To demand the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. To stand up for an Irish Language Act and for Irish speakers. To stand up for the right of citizens to marriage equality. To stand up for a Bill of Rights. But it is especially crucial that we stand up to and challenge the disaster that is Brexit.”
Sinn Féin group leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill stated that “It is inspiring to see such an impressive panel of candidates going forward to contest this election and I have no doubt that you will all do us proud on June 8th.”
Michelle O’Neill continued: “let’s get out there and fight back. We are entering a new political era. The opportunities for real change are within our grasp. The old certainties are gone. The perpetual unionist majority has ended. Europe is in a state of flux. Now is the time for real change and the onus is on us to shape and organise that change. As a party we are the strongest we have ever been. If we lower our expectations or limit our vision then we are not playing to our own strengths. If you think our local political opponents are going to win; or if you think you cannot win, then without doubt that is what will happen. You won’t win. However, if you go out to win, if you believe you can win, if we organise and invite others to get on board with us, then we will win. We made history on March 2nd. On June 8th, let’s get out and do it again.”
A year of a ‘do-nothing’ government – Gerry Adams TD
Commenting as the Fine Gael-led minority coalition marks twelve months in office, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said, “the people of this state have had to endure a year of a do-nothing government. It is bereft of solutions to the serious problems faced by citizens and communities and lacks vision on the big issues of Brexit, the peace process and Irish unity.”
Teachta Adams TD said; “Today marks a year since the Fine Gael-led coalition took office. It did so with the backing of Fianna Fail. They remain in power due to Fianna Fáil’s steadfast support.”
The Sinn Féin President continued, “Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil call this ‘new politics’. There is nothing new or different about it. There are still chronic crises in housing, healthcare, and transport. Life in this state is still dominated by people sleeping in doorways, patients languishing on trolleys in our Emergency Departments, children being denied timely access to treatment, and families not having enough to make ends meet. The government has stumbled from one scandal – one debacle – to another. Nowhere is this more evident in policing and justice and their refusal to remove the Garda Commissioner from office.”
He concluded, “On his trip to Canada, the Taoiseach said that currently politics is ‘both deteriorating and degrading of people and democracy’. Those words are an apt description of his own policies. The Taoiseach, his government, and their cheerleaders in Fianna Fáil, have done nothing to create to a fairer society. The sooner they go, the better.”
Irish government needs to oppose Tory Brexit agenda – Martina Anderson MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the Irish government needs to oppose all aspects of the Tory Brexit agenda.
Martina Anderson said: “I have been contacted by a number of people who travel regularly on cross-border buses, particularly the Belfast to Dublin route, who have said they have seen an increase in immigration checks on the buses. On several occasions it has been reported that members of the Garda have boarded buses and asked all passengers for identification. This smacks of a hardening of the border and a reinforcing of partition. It raises serious questions about whether the Irish government are pre-empting Brexit and doing the bidding of the British Tories who are looking to oppose a hard border on the island of Ireland. We do not want to see any border on the island of Ireland and have put forward a credible alternative to Brexit with the case for designated special status for the north within the EU. The Irish government should be working to secure designated status and acting in the interests of all Irish citizens instead of following the Tory line on Brexit.”
Sinn Fein only party in North Belfast best able to deliver on a rights based agenda – John Finucane
John Finucane, the son of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, has been nominated to stand as a Sinn Féin candidate for North Belfast in June’s general election.
Speaking at his selection convention, Mr Finucane stated: “I am the product of a mixed marriage. Of a Catholic father from west Belfast, and a Protestant mother from East Belfast. I have relatives who are Protestant and Catholic, and I have relatives who are Unionist and Republican.” He continued, “I have been brought up and lived my life in an inclusive family environment where difference and diversity is embraced and celebrated, and I am proud of that. My upbringing has shown me that everyone deserves to be, and must be, treated equally.”
Speaking on the legacy of his father, Mr Finucane said: “I am the youngest son of Patrick Finucane, who was killed just yards from this venue 28 years ago. Since his death, my family has campaigned for truth and justice, under the dignified direction of my mother Geraldine. I remain as resolute as ever that some things are worth battling for. That is a conviction that I have taken from my father’s life and death, and from the strength I have witnessed at first hand in my mother and my family. I am proud to have campaigned for truth and justice in my father’s case because it truly is a campaign for everyone. I firmly believe the success and progress we have achieved has benefitted our entire society.”
He said that he had been inspired to stand by the example of Martin McGuinness, “Martin helped my family for countless years and always showed compassion and warmth to us and to so many others. If I can achieve a fraction of what Martin achieved in the work that he did to reach out the hand of friendship, then I will be very proud. As one of the tens of thousands of mourners who attended Martin’s funeral in Derry just weeks ago, I was inspired by his legacy and the words used to remember his life at the graveside oration. ”
He concluded, “We can win this seat. We can return a Sinn Fein MP for the first time in the history of North Belfast. Between now and June 8th we can make the impossible possible. Let’s go and do it. Let’s make history. Let’s take North Belfast.”
Councils told Brexit a disaster for border areas – Jemma Dolan MLA
Sinn Féin Jemma Dolan MLA said border areas must be protected from the negative impacts of Brexit. The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA was speaking after attending a meeting of councils, which discussed the impact on border areas of leaving the EU.
Jemma Dolan said: “It was clear at the meeting today that industries are aware of the detrimental impact Brexit will have on border areas. Brexit will have serious repercussions for all-island economic integration, cross-border trade, and particularly for services, manufacturing, farming and agri-food sectors.”
She continued, “The Ulster University Economic Policy Centre report found that some of the weakest economies on the island of Ireland are along the border. These areas also rely on funding from the EU in the form of Common Agricultural Policy, cross-border and peace funds and skills development programmes. Foreign direct investment has helped deliver jobs to the area so it is clear that border areas need protection from the negative impacts of Brexit. Brexit will be a disaster for the economy, for local business, for farmers and the wider agri-food industry, for the health service, for workers’ rights and border communities.”
Ms Dolan concluded, “The people of the North voted to remain because it is in their best interests politically and economically. Sinn Féin is the only party to put forward a credible alternative to Brexit with our case for designated special status for the North within the EU.”
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