Building a New Republic
One year out from the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising I am happy to be addressing Dublin Sinn Féin activists here in the city that fought an empire.
Bliain amuigh ó chomóradh céad bliain Éirí Amach na Cásca tá mé an-sásta a bheith ag caint libh, muintir Shinn Féin i mBaile Átha Cliath – an chathair a thug troid
The year ahead is a time for renewal and planning, a year for promoting republicanism.
The 1916 Proclamation remains the mission statement of modern Irish republicanism.
It is a freedom charter for this whole island and all the people who live here.
It is a declaration of social and economic intent for a society in which the people are sovereign.
And the Proclamation’s message of equality and citizenship is as relevant in 2015 as it was in 1916.
That is why we are campaigning so strongly for a ‘Yes’ vote in the forthcoming marriage equality referendum. This is fundamentally about equality of citizenship.
That is what genuine republicanism is about – a citizen-centred, rights based society.
Sin croílár an phoblachtánachais – sochaí a bhfuil an saoránach agus cearta lárnach ann
That is what Sinn Féin seeks to achieve.
Sin an rud atá Sinn Féin ag iarraidh a bhaint amach.
Next week the Fine Gael/Labour Government will make its Spring Economic Statement.
Working straight from the Fianna Fáil handbook, they will seek to buy the next election with tax cuts for the better off without changing the fundamentals of their conservative agenda.
But citizens will not be fooled that easily.
Ach ní bhuailfear bob ar na daoine chomh éasca sin.
Sinn Féin will judge next week’s Government statement on what it does to address the deep inequalities that have been wrought on this society over recent years.
Fine Gael and Labour claim that a recovery is underway.
If there is, it’s an unequal and unfair, two-tier recovery.
Sinn Féin wants to deliver a fair recovery.
A recovery that leaves no family behind.
A recovery where those who played no part in the economic disaster and who are least able to pay, are given a break.
The Government’s Economic statement is effectively the opening shot of its re-election campaign.
But the growing scandal about IBRC goes to the very heart of what is wrong with the governance of this State and the relationship between Government and big business, whether under Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.
Fine Gael and Labour’s response to the issues around Siteserv and other scandals, their subservience to the elites, to the golden circles, is in marked contrast to their despicable attitude to citizens who have been impoverished by the politics of austerity.
The Taoiseach may duck and dive to avoid the scandal of Siteserve but it is clear that this is only the tip of the iceberg of the bigger scandal that is IBRC.
Sinn Féin will ensure that he does not escape his responsibility for this.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Leader Mr Martin clearly prefers talking about Sinn Féin than about his own party, even at Fianna Fáil events.
Is it any wonder? There is growing political desperation within the leadership of Fianna Fáil at the growth of Sinn Féin right across the island of Ireland.
Fianna Fail were in government for 60 years in this State.
Bhí Fianna Fáil i rialtas sa Stát se ar feadh seasca bliain.
The Fianna Fáil leadership knows that with every advance of genuine republican politics, their own failure to deliver on republican principles, is further exposed.
Sinn Féin is seen by ever greater numbers of citizens as representing a genuine republican alternative to the failed politics which Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have inflicted on citizens.
By attacking a vibrant and growing party like Sinn Féin, Mr Martin hopes to make himself politically relevant.
He concentrates more on us than he does on this very bad Fine Gael/Labour Government.
The reason for this is obvious.
Fianna Fáil has no strategies of its own.
It has no strategy to end the austerity which has had such a devastating effect on hardworking families and vulnerable citizens.
Under Mícheál Martin, Fianna Fáil has no vision for the future and instead offers the same, tired old rhetoric of the past.
In government the Fianna Fáil leadership wrecked the economy, forced hundreds of thousands out of work and more into exile in Australia, Canada and elsewhere.
It was the policies of Fianna Fáil which created the mess for the thousands of households who have either lost their homes or are in mortgage arrears.
It was Fianna Fáil which brought in the Troika, acquiesced to their demands, and gave €64 billion of taxpayers money to the banks.
The present Government is implementing an austerity agenda which was laid out for them by Fianna Fáil, including Micheál Martin.
The Water Charges, for example, were Fianna Fáil’s idea.
Micheal Martin was a senior government minister for 14 years.
He voted for budget after budget, which disproportionately impacted on working families and the most vulnerable and supported the use of taxpayers money to pay private bad bank debt.
The idea of a ‘Fianna Fáil Nua’ is a myth – it is the same old Fianna Fáil and if that party was in government today it would behave exactly as it did in the past.
It’s also inconceivable that someone who sat at Cabinet from 1997 through to 2011 can in any real way lead the opposition.
Ní raibh sé chomh soiléir is atá sé anois nach bhfuil pioc difir idir Fianna Fáil agus Fine Gael.
Micheál Martin’s recent tirade against Sinn Féin at Arbour Hill majored on negativity and invective.
It offered no message of hope for citizens or policy proposals which could build a better future for this country.
His claim that Sinn Féin is not ‘fit for government’ is an example of the arrogance of the old Fianna Fáil.
With a leadership that believed that its own interests came before the interests of the country or the interests of the people.
That delusion and that arrogance still infects the current Fianna Fáil leadership.
Ach beidh mé an-soiléir faoin méid seo.
The question of who represents citizens in government is one for the people to decide – not Fianna Fáil and not Micheál Martin!
Unlike Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin has a mandate in both parts of this island.
We are in government in the North where we have been central to the transformation that has occurred there in recent years.
The Fianna Fáil leader is singularly ill-informed on the Six Counties but this has not stopped him making regular but constantly negative verbal forays into matters north of the border.
What was especially interesting and disturbing about Micheál Martin’s recent utterances was his departure from the wide, pro-Good Friday Agreement consensus that has existed across this island in recent years.
Mr Martin consciously sought to denigrate the political institutions in the North and to erect new barriers to Sinn Fein’s full and equal participation in the Executive.
I think people need to know if Micheál Martin still supports the full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements.
I also want to encourage Mr Martin to organise Fianna Fail in the North. Fine Gael should do the same. And Labour.
Despite what Mr Martin claimed last weekend, Sinn Féin has never tried to claim ownership of 1916.
The only people trying to claim 1916 in a narrow, party political way is the Fianna Fáil leadership.
What Sinn Féin has sought to do is to popularise the centenary of the Easter Rising.
We have sought to place the ideals of 1916, and above all the message of the Proclamation, front and centre in all the commemorative events.
The legacy of 1916 belongs to all the people of Ireland, North and South.
Is le muintir na hÉireann ar fad, idir Thuaisceart agus Dheisceart, oidhreacht naoi déag a sé déag.
Sinn Féin seeks to implement the republican and egalitarian message of the Proclamation. That is what conservative parties like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael don’t want to talk about.
Micheál Martin has also raised the hoary old myth of there being a ‘good old IRA’ of 1916 and the Tan War which he tries to contrast with a ‘bad IRA’ of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Of course Mr Martin conveniently ignores the reality that the Volunteers in 1916 were responsible for killing women and children in the streets of Dublin.
That the IRA of the Tan War era was responsible for abducting, executing and secretly burying suspected informers.
He tries to sanitise one phase of war and demonise and criminalise another one.
Let there be no doubt about it. All war is terrible. War is desperate.
Those of us who lived through the recent conflict are the ones who have worked to ensure that conflict is ended for good and that we never go back there.
That is why Sinn Fein was pivotal to the Peace Process.
Those of us who come from communities that were ravaged by conflict; those whose neighbours were killed; those who buried our friends and family members; who carry injuries to this day; those who endured the prisons, do not need lectures from Micheál Martin about conflict.
We did not go to war. The war came to us.
The obligation on political leaders is to work to resolve conflict and to build reconciliation, not to attempt to re-fight the war.
Mr Martin needs to wake up and realise that the war is over!
Arís, tá an cogadh thart!
Micheál Martin’s selective diatribes on Irish history convince nobody.
We are as a proud of Bobby Sands and Mairéad Farrell as we are of the Volunteers of 1916 and those who fought the Black and Tans.
For decades Fianna Fáil posed as ‘the republican party’ while wielding power in the interests of visitors to the Galway Tent as opposed to those of ordinary hardworking citizens.
But there now exists a genuine and growing Irish republican party focussed on uniting Ireland, and bringing about a real republic on this island.
The Fianna Fáil leadership has strayed very, very far from the party’s republican origins.
No one is more disappointed by this than those disillusioned Fianna Fáil voters – good nationalists and republicans – who worked for decades for the party only to be betrayed by corrupt leaders.
As we can see, Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil are very, very worried.
There are 500,000 reasons for them to worry – they are the 500,000 Sinn Féin voters across this island.
But Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil are not really afraid of Sinn Féin – it is the electorate they fear.
For our part, Sinn Fein will not be deflected from the political task that lies ahead.
Our responsibility is to ensure that if there is to be a recovery it must be a fair recovery.
Our duty is to rebuild and repair society.
To build equality and to continue to realign Irish politics so that the economy serves the citizens.
To build an unstoppable momentum for positive political change across this island.
To unite our country and our people in harmony and mutual respect
And to build a genuine republic with equality and social justice at its core.
Let us go out and continue that work.
Anois rachaimid amach agus leanaimís ar aghaidh leis an obair sin!
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.
Source: Sinn Féin Newsroom