(Not my best photography every. I couldn’t use the flash, so had to make do)
Deputy Adams was speaking in Belfast this afternoon on the controversy surrounding the Government’s handling of the campaign against Maurice McCabe.
“They have covered up on the NAMA scandal and they are now playing the public for fools on the Garda/Tusla/McCabe controversy.
“Fine Gael is in power only by dint of patronage from Fianna Fáil, and Fianna Fáil is keeping the wreck afloat.
“Citizens are scandalised by the arrogance of Enda Kenny and his Cabinet colleagues. The Taoiseach should do the right thing. So should Micheál Martin. He should withdraw his support for the government.
“Sinn Féin in government would not tolerate this type of behaviour.
“People deserve an election. They deserve to have their say on all of these matters.
“The Sinn Féin Chief Whip has written to the Business Committee in the Dáil seeking a debate on the Commission of Investigation to be brought forward to Tuesday to allow the Tánaiste and the Minister for Children to clarify their positions.”
THE POLITICAL CRISIS in the Six Counties is deepening. The election on 2 March is a consequence of this worsening political situation.
The actions of DUP ministers which led to the collapse of the political institutions made that inevitable. But the value and viability of the political institutions have been under sustained pressure for a long period of time.
The DUP’s hostility towards power-sharing and partnership, its refusal to embrace equality or properly adhere to the Good Friday Agreement, and its institutionalised bigotry and intolerance for mutual respect have been steadily corrupting the political process.
Red Sky, NAMA, inappropriate relationships with unionist paramilitaries and RHI have all become bywords for the DUP’s political arrogance and contempt.
All of these factors climaxed in a tipping point in December which made the political institutions and existing status quo unsustainable – a fact mirrored by unprecedented popular anger at the DUP’s abuse of political power.
The failure of the British and Irish governments to fulfil their international obligations under the Good Friday Agreement has contributed massively to the current crisis.
This is the culmination of both governments taking the Peace Process for granted since 2010 and 2011 respectively. Both governments have ignored this reality.
A significant and influential section of the DUP (known euphemistically as “The Twelve Apostles”) have always opposed power-sharing and partnership. That has found expression in their opposition to power-sharing and partnership, and hostility to equality in all its manifestations.
These are the people who forced Ian Paisley out of the DUP leadership after he led that party into coalition government with Sinn Féin and others in 2007.
The regressive mind-set of the The Twelve Apostles still dominates within the DUP.
So when the Conservative Party came back into government in Britain in 2010, an opportunity was seized to push back against the progress of the Peace Process. That fact has defined the political process for the last seven years.
The reality is that when political unionism believes it is not accountable, it reverts to the comfort zone of Orange State politics.
Instead, the Conservative Government has become increasingly pro-unionist and politically aligned with both the DUP and UUP, as evidenced in their mutually shared positions on Brexit, promoting the single unionist narrative of the conflict, opposition to Irish-language rights, and blocking any progress on dealing with the past.
The British and Irish governments need to understand equality, parity of esteem and respect are no longer negotiable. That negotiation is over. It concluded in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and yet, 19 years later, it has still not been fully implemented.
Recently, a senior unionist suggested that this crisis was inevitable and it just happened to be on the issue of RHI.
He was right – RHI was the tipping point. However, for as long as the DUP and others within political unionism remain opposed to power-sharing and equality, the North will be destined to remain locked in permanent crisis.
During the debate on the Good Friday Agreement before the Assembly closed down, DUP speakers referred to their party’s negativity towards power-sharing and how they still ‘hold their noses’ when working with Sinn Féin.
Those were significant insights to current DUP attitudes.
The DUP leader’s dehumanising description of republicans as ‘crocodiles’ and disrespect for the Irish language is a further stark illustration of that party’s real mindset. It was an echo of David Trimble’s words when he alluded to Sinn Féin as dogs who needed to be ‘house trained’.
When republicans, nationalists and others refer to the DUP’s arrogance and contempt, we speak of how that party has been abusing and misusing political power. That reality goes to the very heart of this crisis.
Equality is not a concession or an appeasement.
All sections of society are entitled to have high expectations of our political institutions.
Sinn Féin has kept the political process under very careful review since 2013, when the DUP broke the agreement on the Maze/Long Kesh project, after their behaviour alongside loyalist paramilitaries during the flags protests, when they opposed the Hass/O’Sullivan proposals, and then following their deceitful undermining of the agreement on welfare in February/March 2015.
Our party has invested heavily in the political institutions and persevered with inordinate patience.
The difference between Sinn Féin, the DUP and others in political unionism is that we want to share power. The DUP is opposed to that agenda.
Republicans want to develop a reconciliation process. The DUP, the British Government and others in political unionism are locked into a mode of continuous psychological war and recrimination.
Sinn Féin wants to put equality at the heart of the political process for all citizens. But the DUP and powerful agencies within the British state have never reconciled themselves to the outworking of power-sharing and partnership. This is the reason why political unionism and the British Government have become clearly aligned in opposition to dealing with the past with their demand for complete immunity from prosecution of all British state forces.
That position clearly indicates both the British and DUP have decided they do not want to positively resolve this impasse in any post-election negotiation process.
The most recent public interventions by senior DUP figures, including the party leader, also suggest that party does not want to engage seriously in post-election negotiations.
The Good Friday Agreement drew a line under the political conflict in the Six Counties. As a result, the Peace Process is irreversible.
However, until the DUP and others in political unionism, and both the British and Irish governments accept responsibility for implementing the Good Friday Agreement – and their binding international obligations – this much is clear: there will be no restoration of the political institutions.
Direct rule was a failed status quo. The DUP’s refusal, and the two governments’ failure to adhere to the Good Friday Agreement and all successive agreements, has now created another failed status quo. There can be no return to either scenario.
The Sinn Féin position is clear – republicans, nationalists, women, LGBT communities and ethnic minorities are not going to be pushed to the back of the bus again.
Unless there is a qualitative step-change in the political process and an end to political corruption, unless equality is firmly entrenched at the heart of the political process, there is no point in having the political institutions because they will have no value.
In those circumstances, the North could face the prospect of protracted political crisis.
That would be an untenable situation.
The alternative must be for civic society to stand with political parties committed to equality, and against corruption and the DUP. And the Irish Government must stand up against the negativity of the British Government. This is the only way forward.
The Assembly election on 2 March will be another watershed for the Peace Process.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, has said the Minister for Transport needs to engage with all stakeholders to find a resolution to the current crisis at Bus Éireann.
Calling for an increase in funding for the Free Travel Scheme, he said that the Minister’s aim must be to “ensure we find a way to protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network”.
Teachta Adams said:
“The management of Bus Éireann have recently announced measures that threaten the rights of bus workers. By slashing overtime and Sunday rates and cutting pay, management is forcing the issue to an industrial dispute. This race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ pay and conditions is completely unacceptable.
“A huge amount of people, particularly in rural Ireland, rely on Bus Éireann services. They are the young, the old, the poor, the rural dweller, the tourist.
“It is possible with good management, by listening to transport users and workers and taking on board what they have to say, to create a service which will attract more people to use public transport.
“That should be the Government’s position. It is not the position of the Minister for Transport Shane Ross. He has a responsibility to ensure the future sustainability of Bus Éireann.
“There are a range of decisions he could take, including a full review of the Expressway service, a review of loss making routes on which private carriers currently operate and a review of the number of private licenses issued on these routes.
“There should also be an increase in funding for the Free Travel Pass. As it currently stands, the amount allocated covers just 41% of the cost of the average journey. This has contributed significantly to losses at Expressway.
“The Minister needs to provide clarity regarding routes and services that have been identified for potential closure and he needs to engage with all of the stakeholders immediately in order to prevent serious travel disruption.
“His aim must be to ensure that together we find a way to protect, preserve and enhance our public transport network.
“So, I would urge the Taoiseach to ensure that Minister Ross engages with all stakeholders, including the Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority, Bus Éireann and the unions to find a resolution to this issue without delay.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today questioned the Taoiseach about media reports that the HSE drug committee has decided against recommending the Orkambi drug for CF sufferers.
The Louth TD described the Taoiseach’s response and correspondence that he received today from the drug company Vertex, as “creating serious confusion and upset for CF sufferers and their families”. Teachta Adams called for urgent clarification from the Minister for Health.
Gerry Adams said:
“This morning’s media reports that the HSE drug committee has not recommended the use of the drug Orkambi for more than 550 Irish CF sufferers will cause serious concern to those citizens faced with this life threatening condition.
“Before Christmas, Oireachtas members heard distressing first-hand accounts of CF sufferers and their families. Orkambi and Kalydeco can save lives. They can dramatically improve the well-being of hundreds of patients.
“The HSE’s drug committee has now referred this issue to its executive management team but media speculation also claims that it is unlikely to give the go ahead for an agreement with Vertex.
“However, the Taoiseach’s response to me in the Dáil suggests that discussions with Vertex have not closed.
“Vertex in its letter to me says that ‘in the last six months, we have put multiple proposals to provide access to Orkambi, including options available in other European countries like Germany and Austria. Our latest proposal – which we have developed with input and direction from the HSE – would provide access to Kalydeco and Orkambi and we believe meets all the criteria set by the HSE’.
“In light of the media reports, the distress that these will have caused to hundreds of CF sufferers and their families, and the confusion that now exists I am calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to immediately clarify the state of discussions and decisions to be taken on this issue.”
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the High Court action which has been commenced by the family of Seamus Ludlow.
Teachta Adams said:
“The Final Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in 2006concluded that Commissions of Investigation were needed into important aspects of the Seamus Ludlow case.
“Despite this clear statement of support for Commissions of Investigation, there has been a refusal by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments to do this.
“As a consequence of the state’s actions or lack of action, the Ludlow family, who have been seeking truth for 40 years, are today in the High Court.
“It is unacceptable that the government is actively blocking the creation of Commissions of Investigation as recommended and has forced a family to endure a High Court action.”
Seamus Ludlow was shot dead in May 1976 by unionist paramilitaries.
His case was one of those investigated by the Barron Commission and was the subject of the Final Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Murder of Seamus Ludlow in March 2006.
At that time, the Commission concluded that collusion had occurred involving the loyalist gang which included two officers from the Ulster Defence Regiment. It also recorded its disappointment at the lack of co-operation by the British authorities.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, has said that the executive order introduced by US President Donald Trump last week to halt the US refugee programme “is a subversion of acceptable standards of decency and equality”.
He said that the Taoiseach should “assert clearly the Irish people’s total opposition, in the strongest possible terms, to the racist, anti-women and anti-immigration policies of President Trump”.
Teachta Adams said:
“The Executive Order introduced by US President Donald Trump last week to halt the US refugee programme is a subversion of acceptable standards of decency and equality.
“It is disappointing that the Taoiseach has yet to raise this matter with the US administration.
“He should have expressed his opposition to the blanket 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order will undermine efforts to improve relationships between those of all faiths and nationalities throughout the world.
“As the Taoiseach has said, generations of Irish fled starvation, poverty and conflict in Ireland to make a new life and contribute to building America. Millions of them and their descendants are still there. Let us note that they are among the most outraged over these recent moves.
“I acknowledge he has initiated a review of pre-clearance protocols, which is welcome, but the government’s primary responsibility must be to ensure this fundamentally unjust order is not used in Irish airports.
“The Taoiseach needs to introduce measures, if necessary, to ensure no one is a victim of discrimination and that no international or domestic law is broken. He needs to ensure that this State’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and other international agreements are fully observed.
“The Taoiseach should take the opportunity to advise the undocumented Irish in the USA not to be alarmed by recent developments. I know from my contacts there that many people there are frightened for their futures and the Taoiseach should meet with them when he travels to the USA.
“His primary focus has to be to engage with the diaspora, stand with the undocumented Irish and maintain our strong ties with Irish America, particularly as regards the ongoing process of change on this island.
“He must also assert clearly the Irish people’s total opposition, in the strongest possible terms, to the racist, anti-women and anti-immigration policies of President Trump.”
Louth TD Gerry Adams has commended the family of Seamus Ludlow for their “courage and perseverance for over 40 years in seeking the truth about his murder in 1976”.
Gerry Adams said:
“This week, a three day hearing will take place in the High Court in Dublin at which the family of Seamus Ludlow will seek the establishment by the Minister for Justice of the two commissions of investigations recommended by the Barron Report.
“The Final Report of the Barron Commission was critical of the treatment of the Ludlow family, Gardaí conduct, missing documents and possible collusion by the British state. It concluded that ‘…a further inquiry is essential in order to ensure justice is both done and seen to be done. It is also necessary to address the potential damage to the rule of law that would occur if the investigation into the murder of any citizen of the State is not treated in a thorough and professional manner as is the right of every citizen’.
“The appalling treatment of the family by the state has been compounded by the refusal to establish the Commissions of Investigation and now by forcing the family to take the Minister to Court.
“Sinn Féin supports the family in their efforts to get truth. I would urge the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald not to force the family to endure a High Court case, but to resolve this matter by setting up the Commissions of Investigation recommended by the 2006 Barron Report.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said there is no possibility of his party propping up a Fine Gael government.
Responding to comments on a possible future coalition made by Enda Kenny, the Louth TD said that bolstering the right wing, regressive policies of Fine Gael was now the role of Fianna Fail.
“Fine Gael should stop getting into a tizzy on this issue. The Taoiseach should also stop flip-flopping. I would like to help calm Fine Gael down. There is no possibility of Sinn Fein propping up Fine Gael in government, given their disastrous policies. That is the role that Fianna Fáil have taken on.
“This partnership of Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin has delivered the highest levels of homelessness in the history of the state; new horror stories emerge out of the health system on a daily basis and we have a government that is not only wholly unprepared for Brexit but has no idea how to prepare.
“The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis determines our party policy on coalition. Of course, we want to be in government but not for the sake of it or for having republican bums on cabinet seats. We want to be in government to effect real change in people’s lives.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking during European Council Statements in the Dáil this afternoon, has said the efforts of parties in the Dáil must be to create the conditions where citizens will opt for Irish unity.
He said “it is well within our ability if we have the will to work for this necessary objective and to set aside party political rivalries to do so. That means all of us should be persuaders for unity.”
Teachta Adams said: “An all-island vision is crucial and the commitment to Irish unity by the government and all parties in the Dáil is fundamental.
“The fact that we have all signed up to change the status of the North, if that is what the people decide, and the reality of the all-island and all-Ireland nature of the Good Friday Agreement are clear evidence of its unique nature.
“Proof that the North, contrary to protestations from the Labour party and the Taoiseach, is a disputed territory is also clear from that part of the Good Friday Agreement which obliges the two governments to legislate for Irish unity if that is what the people vote for.
“Before this the British had made an absolute and totally illegitimate claim to that part of our island. Before partition they claimed the entire island equally illegitimately.
“I am very proud of the fact that Sinn Féin got rid of that when we got agreement from Tony Blair to end the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The British claim to the North is now highly conditional.
“Our efforts in this Dáil, even as we deal with the consequences of Brexit, must be to create the conditions where the people will opt for unity. We have to work at that.
“That is a big challenge but it is well within our ability if we have the will to work for this necessary objective and to set aside party political rivalries to do so.
“That means all of us should be persuaders for unity.
“In the meantime we should stop ignoring the vote of the people in the North and uphold their democratic right to remain in the European Union with a special designated status.”