Ireland: Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams -- `The people know the system doesn’t serve them'

Gerry Adams launches Sinn Fein's general election campaign.

February 7, 2011 -- Irish Republican News -- Sinn Fein opened its election campaign on February 6 with a strong attack by party president Gerry Adams on corruption in the political system in the 26 Counties. Adams pointed to deep-seated anger among voters about the outgoing government and the other establishment parties, who he said were part of a deeply corrupt ruling elite.

“The economy is in crisis because of political choices being made by a deeply corrupt political elite operating within a flawed political system. And the political choices that they made were bad political choices”, Adams said. “There is deep distress out there. The people know the system doesn’t serve them, and that makes it a corrupt system.”

“There are two Irelands”, he said. “There is the Ireland of the elites and the mohair suits and the Galway tent and all that came out of Taca (Fianna Fail’s controversial fundraising club) ... and there is the other Ireland -- which is of the people who care, and are decent and fair.”

Gerry Adams was speaking after a number of prominent property developers, bankers and the racing industry were also revealed as key sources of financial support for the leading opposition party, Fine Gael.

The launch of the Sinn Fein election campaign in the National Gallery in Dublin took place under the theme "There is a Better Way" and was attended by its 41 candidates in 38 constituencies.

  Adams said Sinn Fein would put those on middle to low incomes first, reversing the budget cuts and abolishing the universal social charge. It would also cut ministerial salaries by 40 per cent and TD [members of Ireland's parliament, the Dail] salaries by 20 per cent.

“Every TD elected for Sinn Fein means a stronger voice for citizens, for working families, for the unemployed and those struggling to make ends meet”, he said. “The more Sinn Fein TDs elected the louder the voice for those they represent.”

On February 4, Adams launched his own campaign to be elected as a TD for Louth, saying there had never been a greater need for republican politics. During his address to the crowd Adams quoted from James Connolly and also hunger striker Bobby Sands. He said every generation of republicans had to act “in their own time -- and in 2011 we act not as they did in 1916”.

Adams was introduced to the crowd at the Fairways Hotel, Dundalk, by Donegal South West deputy Pearse Doherty, who said that in the next three weeks, “the people of this state have a serious chance to change the direction this country is going in and by god do we need a change of direction”.

“This election is not about faces or political dynasties but what you can offer people on the ground, what you can do for people who are suffering”, he said.

Outgoing Sinn Fein deputy in Louth, Arthur Morgan, told the crowd that Gerry Adams “is a republican leader, perhaps the most influential since Wolfe Tone”.

Adams will add a huge dynamic to the Dublin parliament and could be part of “changing the course of Irish political history”, Mr Morgan said.

The following is the full list of Sinn Fein candidates

John Cassin - Carlow/Kilkenny

Kathleen Funchion - Carlow/Kilkenny

Caoimhghin O Caolain TD - Cavan/Monaghan

Kathryn Reilly - Cavan/Monaghan

Sandra McLellan - Cork East

Jonathan O’Brien - Cork North-Central

Des O’ Grady - Cork North-West

Chris O’Leary - Cork South-Central

Paul Hayes - Cork South-West

Padraig MacLochlainn - Donegal North-East

Pearse Doherty TD - Donegal South-West

Sean Crowe - Dublin South West

Rudhan Mac Aodhan - Dublin South East

Aengus O Snodaigh TD - Dublin South-Central

Eoin O Broin - Dublin Mid-West

Paul Donnelly - Dublin West

Mary Lou McDonald - Dublin Central

Helen McCormack - Dublin North Central

Larry O’Toole - Dublin North East

Dessie Ellis - Dublin North West

Sorcha Nic Cormaic - Dublin South

Dermot Connolly - Galway East

Trevor O Clochartaigh - Galway West

Martin Ferris TD - Kerry North/West Limerick

Martin Kelly - Kildare North

Jason Turner - Kildare South

Brian Stanley - Laois/Offaly

Paul Hogan - Longford/Westmeath

Maurice Quinlivan - Limerick City

Gerry Adams - Louth

Therese Ruane - Mayo

Rose Conway-Walsh - Mayo

Michael Gallagher - Meath East

Peadar Toibin - Meath West

Martin Kenny - Roscommon/South Leitrim

Michael Colreavy - Sligo/North Leitrim

Seamus Morris - Tipperary North

Michael Browne - Tipperary South

David Cullinane - Waterford

Anthony Kelly - Wexford

John Brady - Wicklow/East Carlow.

Sinn Fein: There is a better way

The introduction and executive summary of Sinn Fein’s election manifesto for the 26-County general election in February 2011.

* * *

Ireland is at a crossroads. This election will be one of the most important ever held. Fianna Fail and the Greens have ruined the economy.

440,000 citizens are unemployed; 100,000 more people will emigrate over the next two years. Families are at risk of losing their homes. Our elderly and disabled, low-income and middle-income families, our urban and rural communities and small businesses, have all been badly hurt by the bad decisions of this incompetent Government.

Our sovereignty has been handed over to the IMF and EU and the banking debt has become the personal debt of every man, woman and child in the State. This is wrong.

There is a better way to reduce the deficit and put our economy back on track without cutting the heart out of society and destroying our education, health and social services.

If we are to fix this our society we need to put honesty and fairness into politics. We need people in the Dail who are there to represent the best interests of citizens, not the banks or themselves. We need people who put job creation and quality public services first - who will make sure the ordinary person and the most vulnerable in society are protected. All that is still possible, even in these difficult times. But it means political choices.

Fianna Fail’s and the Greens’ savage Budget targeted working families and those on low and middle incomes. And, despite their rhetoric, Labour and Fine Gael have both said that they intend to implement the policies produced by the Government.

Four years ago, these parties were also saying the same thing - cut taxes, increase spending and give more power to the EU.

Four years ago, Sinn Fein said the fundamentals were not sound and that the Government was throwing away billions instead of investing in the future.

We proposed introducing a fair tax system, using available public finance to create a world-class health and education system, immediate measures to deal with a growing crisis in property and banking, the ending of cronyism and double standards. We said use the boom to build a society that we can really be proud of.

Today we are the only party to have produced costed, alternative economic proposals that have been endorsed by independent economists. Sinn Fein’s commitment is to:

a) Invest in a major job-creation programme to get Ireland back to work;

b) Reverse the savage cuts and prioritise frontline services;

c) Burn the bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and wind it up;

d) Reduce the deficit by taxing the wealthiest and eliminating wasteful spending.

e) Root and branch political reform aimed at producing a genuinely open and accountable form of Government which ends the notion of political elites and empowers Irish citizens

f) An end to the two-tier health and education systems;

g) The proper use of Ireland’s natural resources for the common good;

h) Continued support for the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement

Over the last year Sinn Fein has confronted the Government and demanded higher standards. For us, actions speak louder than words.

  • Sinn Fein was the only party not to sign up to the Fianna Fail/Green Party/Fine Gael/Labour ‘Consensus for Cuts’ and instead put forward a real alternative for economic recovery.
  • It was Sinn Fein which first called on Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue to resign, saying his position was untenable after the revelations about his lavish expenses. Only then did the other Opposition parties speak out.
  • It was Limerick City Sinn Fein Councillor Maurice Quinlivan who confronted the slibhin politics of Minister Willie O’Dea.
  • It was the decision of Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty to go to the courts to vindicate the rights of the people of Donegal South-West which forced the Government to hold the long-overdue by-election.
  • It was Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghin O Caolain TD who exposed Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s contacts with leading people in Anglo Irish Bank.
  • It was Sinn Fein which opposed the Lisbon Treaty, pointing out the dangers for our sovereignty.

Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are a United Ireland party. We believe in the sovereignty, independence and freedom of the Irish people and the right of our people to build our own society. Sinn Fein is committed to delivering for citizens.

Sinn Fein offers more than just hope in this election - Sinn Fein offers a real alternative.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY

1) A new Budget as soon as possible following the election.

2) Close the deficit over 6 years, not 4. We would envisage a E3billion adjustment for the remainder of 2011 (E4.7billion in a full year), leaving us with a deficit of E15.7billion in 2012.

3) Restructuring the bank debts, including burning the bank bondholders in those banks which are insolvent, including Anglo Irish Bank. This will ensure tax raised is spent on Irish public services - not servicing or paying off the debt incurred for bailing out the banks.

4) Initiate a responsible wind-down of NAMA.

5) A E7billion job-creation programme spread over 3.5 years with the aim of saving and creating more than 160,000 jobs funded by a once-off transfer from the National Pension Reserve Fund and which we would use for a stimulus instead of transferring its reserves into the banks.

6) A labour-intensive essential infrastructure programme as part of the E7billion job- stimulus programme. The focus of this programme would be to build hospitals, schools, public transport networks and to roll out broadband State-wide.

7) Establishing within the stimulus programme a E600 million Jobs Retention Fund. This fund would subsidise workers in struggling Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the potential to save 96,000 jobs, akin to the successful model used in Germany.

8) The introduction of a 1% Wealth Tax. This would be an income-linked Wealth Tax for high-earners levied on their assets over E1million in value, excluding working farmland.

9) The introduction of a third tax rate of 48% on individual income in excess of three times the average industrial wage (E100,000) per annum.

10) Standardising all discretionary taxation expenditures (tax reliefs paid at either the standard or marginal rate depending on income) with a view to ultimately eradicating tax reliefs that do not return a value for society.

11) Restoring the minimum wage at E8.65 an hour.

12) Removing the income levy/Universal Social Charge from low-earners in the ‘no-tax’ bracket and keep minimum wage earners out of the tax bracket.

13) Immediately returning social welfare payments to 2010 levels, and as soon as economic conditions permit raise them further to ensure adequate incomes (no one below the poverty line).

THE PEOPLE’S SERVICES

1) A new universal public health system for Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general fair and progressive taxation.

2) Reversing the current health cuts. Fund health in the context of reformed taxation and a progressive economic strategy. Roll out the promised Primary Care Centres throughout the State on an accelerated timetable. No more cuts to services at local hospitals and restore those services already cut.

3) Fewer bureaucrats, more frontline health workers.

4) An end to public subsidies for private healthcare. Invest all health funding in the public system.

5) A return to free education. End the system where schools are reliant on voluntary contributions from parents by raising the capitation grants to cover the real cost of running a school. Abolish the charge for the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert and for the mocks. Establish a book- lending scheme across all primary and secondary schools.

6) The creation of 500 new teaching posts and the reduction of class sizes to 20 pupils per teacher.

7) Opposing the reintroduction of third-level fees through any guise and reform the grants system to take into account the real costs of going to college.

8) The responsible wind-down of NAMA.

9) Examine models for mortgage debt forgiveness for those on low and average incomes who are in negative equity and who are in arrears.

10) Completing the stalled regeneration projects.

11) A secure future for rural post offices. Transform the rural postal network to make rural post offices a ‘one stop shop’ for a range of services including postal services, banking services, council services and citizens’ information.

12) Ensuring those with the lowest farm incomes benefit proportionally more from the single farm payment (SFP) and abolish the SFP for large businesses not directly involved in farming. Cap Single Farm Payments at E100,000.

13) Establishing a Rural Enterprise Fund to support new micro enterprises and co-ops being set up in rural areas, particularly in the agri-food sector.

14) Boosting Garda numbers by ending current recruitment, promotion and overtime embargoes. A far-reaching process of civilianisation to free-up fully trained Gardai from administrative and other duties to fight crime is essential and must be expedited.

15) Raise Garda visibility and activity in areas and at times needed by reassigning Gardai from desk duties to the beat.

TOWARDS A NEW REPUBLIC

1) A new Constitution. Establishing an all-Ireland Constitutional Forum drawn from representatives of both legislatures on this island, civic society, business and trade unions to discuss and bring forward a Draft Constitution that would be put to the people in a referendum.

2) Increasing voter participation by holding elections at weekends, reducing the voting age to 16 and automatically register voters as soon as they become eligible to vote using PPS numbers to avoid fraud.

3) Reforming how the Dail is elected. Elect one-third of the Dail from a list system; the other two-thirds from six-seat constituencies based on PRSTV.

4) Abolishing the Seanad in its current form.

5) Capping ministerial salaries at E100,000; TDs’ salaries at E75,000.

6) Northern representation in the Dail - The existing 18 Westminster MPs to automatically be accorded membership of the Oireachtas. Voting rights in Presidential elections to be extended to citizens in the Six Counties.

7) Changing the law to allow for the impeachment or removal from the Dail any TD involved in corruption, deliberate misuse of public money or fraud.

8) Building an Ireland of Equals where everyone’s rights are guaranteed, free of divisions caused by partition, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination, and free from poverty and economic inequality.

9) Publishing the National Positive Ageing Strategy following consultation and direct participation of older people themselves, establish a proactive Ombudsman for Older People, prioritise the protection of vulnerable older people including through the introduction of modern mental capacity legislation.

10) Reviewing the current Disability Act with a view to the introduction of a new rights- based Disability Act alongside robust enforcement mechanisms and establish a Disability Ombudsman and a National Disability Strategy within the Department of the Taoiseach to set annual targets towards full delivery by 2016.

11) Publish a National Carers’ Strategy to secure an adequate income, employment and social opportunities, health and well- being supports for all family carers.

12) Implementation of a comprehensive strategy to roll back the erosion of the primacy of Irish in Gaeltacht areas and to create new Gaeltacht areas, particularly in urban centres, across the island.

Written by Councillor Mick Barry
Monday, 31 January 2011 10:00

Does Sinn Féin represent a genuine left alternative for working class people in the General Election? This is a question that many workers and young people are now asking.

Recent opinion polls have shown Sinn Fein support around the 14-16% mark with the Red C poll for the Irish Sun before Christmas showing 22% support for the party amongst lower income working class voters, making it the most popular party in the state in that category.

Despite the fact that 49% of voters say they would never vote Sinn Fein (many of them working people forever alienated from the party by its support for the IRA campaign), it is clear that Sinn Fein's opposition to the IMF deal and Fianna Fail/Green Party cutbacks has won it fresh support.

This is especially the case given that Labour have agreed to the IMF targets, advocated €4.5 billion cuts in the Budget debates and pledged not to reverse any FF cuts in the next government before being forced, to backtrack. In this context, Sinn Fein is winning support as a “left” alternative.

The election of Pearse Doherty in the Donegal South West bye-election and the decision by Gerry Adams to contest Louth put the media focus onto the party.

Sinn Fein has railed against the "cosy consensus" of the cuts here in the Republic. However, in the North, they have done precisely the opposite and signed up to supporting a vicious programme of anti-working class cutbacks. When actually in power, in the North, they have signed up to a draft budget which provides for:

* £4 billion in cuts over 4 years

* £500+ million privatisation sell-offs of state land and assets

* A pay freeze for 200,000 workers.

Furthermore, Northern Ireland faces increases in the pension age and up to 30,000 public sector job losses as a result of cuts, the first tranche of which has now been accepted by Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein argue that the cuts originate with the British government and their £4 billion cut in Northern Ireland Exchequer funding, saying that they have little alternative but to pass them on.

This is an entirely hollow argument. Fianna Fail could make a similar argument and say that the cuts in the Republic originate with the IMF and that they now have little alternative but to pass them on too.

Sinn Fein have failed to definitively rule out coalition deals with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael after the election. Gerry Adams said recently: "We are involved in a historic compromise in the North which is actually functioning. So we know about the art of politics and the art of compromise.....when you can do business with Ian Paisley you can do business with anyone."

It is true that the party puts its emphasis on wanting a coalition deal with Labour. This is extremely unlikely given that Labour have ruled it out and are set on a deal with Fine Gael. However, would a Labour - Sinn Fein government represent Ireland's first Left governement? No. Both parties accept the rule of the capitalist market and would operate within that framework. This would mean accepting cuts and tax increases and Sinn Fein would be prepared to accept this as shown by their policies in Belfast as would Labour as shown by their support for €4.5 billion cuts in Dublin.

The genuine left alternative at the General Election, consistent in its opposition to cuts, tax increases on working people and privatisation, will be provided not by Sinn Fein but by the United Left Alliance.

Unite trade union says Left government can be formed with Sinn Féin

http://aprnonline.com/?p=82119

January - 27 - 2011

Jimmy Kelly: ‘We can produce a legacy of genuine alternative views’

THE Unite trade union has urged people to vote to elect a left-wing government for the first time in Irish history. The union, the second largest in the state and a Labour Party affiliate, has also called on Labour to go into coalition with Sinn Féin and other Left parties and “progressive Independents” to make this happen.

“A vote for Fine Gael is a vote for more Fianna Fáil policies,” Unite the Union said. “There is nothing to be gained by helping Fine Gael back into office.”

Unite is encouraging the Labour Party to “look Left for coalition partners rather than to the old order of Fine Gael”, which it described as Fianna Fáil’s “political half-brothers”.

Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of Unite the Union, said:
“The Left has never been stronger. Recent polls put the combined strength of the Labour Party and Sinn Féin at 40%. This is substantially higher than either of the right-wing parties.

“With the support of other Left parties and progressive Independents, a Left government is now a distinct possibility.”

The leading trade union activist added:
“We need to remove Fianna Fáil from government and keep their political half-brothers, Fine Gael, out too.
“A vote for Fine Gael is a vote for more Fianna Fáil policies.
“They will support massive cuts to public services, privatisation, more job losses across all sectors and social welfare cuts.
“There is nothing to be gained by helping Fine Gael back into office.”

The Unite spokesperson said that competition for votes and seats between Left parties is to be expected but:
“We should remember that progressives have more in common with each other than they do with either of the Civil War parties.
“For the first time we have an opportunity to move away from out-of-touch and outdated politics based on history rather than ideology.
“We can produce a legacy of genuine alternative views between Right and Left, social democracy and neo-liberalism.
“Right-wing politics based on the markets has failed utterly.
Unite will be calling on its members, trade unionists and all workers to use their votes to maximise left-wing seats. We urge them to vote for, and transfer to, left-wing candidates.
“The electorate will decide what the next government will be.
“We all have an opportunity to elect the first Left government in the history of the state.”

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 22:14

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February 19, 2011

Press Statement

The present economic crisis having its roots in international capitalist contradictions was accentuated by decisions taken by the Fianna Fail government serving the interests of bankers, speculators, and developers. The Fianna Fail solution to solve this crisis was by imposing austerity measures on social welfare recipients, low and middle income earners. These measures must be vigorously resisted and reversed.

The four year Fianna Fail plan approved by the IMF/ EU and supported in broad terms by Fine Gael promises more austerity. This policy will solve nothing. This agreement must be renegotiated with the minimum demand to uncouple the bank debt.

The trade union movement is now under sustained attack. Wages and working conditions in the public and private sector are in the firing line. Registered Employment Agreements, Joint Labour Committees, Employment Regulation Orders are prime targets. The race to the bottom is being signposted. Fine Gael is a party to this attack. In fact the very future of the trade unions is under threat. The ideology and practice of Michael O’Leary and Ryan Aer are hovering like vultures. Remember the Lisbon treaty and the promise that the Charter of Fundamental Rights would protect the right of workers to organise, Where is that promise now? It will require legislation in Dail Eireann. Which party or government can deliver that?

The key issue is still job creation and the protection of existing jobs. The restoration of the minimum wage and social welfare cuts will help this process, but the big issue is the immediate and massive state investment in urgent infrastructure projects like schools, transport, broadband and water. The use of pensions funds public and private could provide that investment. A key role for our semi-states like the ESB BORD NA MONA BORD GAIS in the energy field is essential. Fine Gael on the other hand wants to privatise these companies along with DUBLIN BUS.

We are at an economic and political crossroads. The result of this election will determine the future of the country for generations. Can we build a more equal society or must the rich become richer to entice them create jobs and make bigger profits. This is the road to greater exploitation of working people. The question to be answered is which political party will carry out policies that meet the needs of trade union members and their families and social welfare recipients who were the workers of yesterday.

Parties who are on the political left fulfil these aspirations. A left led government is still the desired option.

We therefore call on all trade unionists in Dublin to work for left unity and vote Labour, SF, and other parties and independents of the Left and transfer accordingly.