01 March 2008

Sinn Féin Ard Fheis shows new Confidence

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams (left) accused the Irish government of failing to stand up for the national interest in the negotiations for the Lisbon Treaty, suggesting that even Dustin the Turkey could well have done a better job on it. Sinn Féin is the only of Ireland's major parties in clear opposition to the Lisbon Treaty and will campaign for a No vote in the forthcoming Referendum.

In his address to the party's Ard Fheis in Dublin, which showed a general mood of new strength and confidence, Adams called today for the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Northern Executive. He also announced the establishment of a Sinn Féin task force to set out a "roadmap to Irish unity".

Earlier the Ard Fheis supported the party leadership's policy on taxation. The vote followed a debate in which Aengus Ó Snodaigh, one of the party's four TDs, opposed the leadership position. Sinn Féin favours higher taxation, if necessary, to fund improved public services.
But the presentation of that policy can cause problems, especially as many of the rank-and-file members felt that the leadership did a U-turn on taxes during last year's general election campaign.

That claim was rejected by the party's group leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who urged delegates to support a motion from the leadership, setting out the Sinn Féin's policy on taxation and on redistributing wealth.
His colleague Aengus Ó Snodaigh (right), TD for Dublin South Central, claimed that the motion did not go far enough. He said Ireland had one of the most inequitable tax systems in the EU, but that Sinn Féin did not have a credible tax policy. But in the following vote delegates overwhelmingly backed the leadership position.

The delegates also passed three motions on workers' rights, including a call on the government to stop supporting the exploitation of temporary agency workers. Arthur Morgan, TD said the issues around agency workers affected both migrant and Irish workers who were being displaced and forced to join agencies particularly in the construction sector.

With regards to the North, Gerry Adams said that senior members of the DUP who support power-sharing needed to assert themselves as Ian Paisley nears the end of his term as leader.
Speaking outside the Ard Fheis, he said that those members of Paisley's party who wanted him to go were against power-sharing and those who support the devolved government needed to assert themselves.

The Ard Fheis in Dublin heard also a strong attack on the Minister for Health, Mary Harney. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (left), Sinn Féin's leader in the Dáil, criticised her handling of the pharmacists dispute and claimed she was "the wrecking ball of the health service".
He accused Harney of implementing a series of "savings" which have led to a recruitment ban, and reductions and removal of hospital services.

Delegates backed a call for an independent investigation into the deaths of two firemen in Bray last September. Bray Town Councillor John Brady said he had no faith in the council investigating itself.

The Ard Fheis rejected a call for immigrants to be given a vote in Dáil and Assembly elections after living here for six months, but supported a motion for a ban on alcohol advertising on television, and on supermarkets selling alcohol at wholesale prices.

After the rather disappointing result of last year's general election, where Sinn Féin lost one of its previously five Dáil seats, the party is re-grouping and clearly in a new mood of confidence. The up-coming Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which Sinn Féin opposes as the only main party in the country, will be the first test of its current strength and support in the Republic. But party strategists are looking already forward to next year's European and Local Elections, where Sinn Féin intends to improve the gains made in 2004. After the abandonment of many working class issues by the Labour Party, and the Green Party's switch to be the footstool of Bertie Ahern, Sinn Féin looks now likely to be the only remaining advocate of ordinary people in Irish politics.

The Emerald Islander

No comments:

Post a Comment