Taoiseach, Táiniste, Fianna Fáil at new depths of self interest – Councillor Martin Browne

Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has called on Táiniste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to resign. He adds his voice to the growing clamour for her departure, but says neither she nor her Fine Gael and Fianna Fail colleagues in Government have shown any consideration for the effect their self-centred games may have on a 7-year old child in medical exile.

Ava Barry on her Communion day with father Paul Barry.

Cllr Browne said: “While Varadkar, Martin, and FitzGerald are standing on their hind legs all braying about which one of them is least wrong, it’s obvious to the rest of us that their only concern is their egos.”

“If Táiniste Fitzgerald doesn’t do the decent thing and step aside, there is a strong likelihood that the egos or Varadkar and Martin and their game of political chicken will go horribly wrong. If it does, what happens then to progress on medicinal cannabis, or any hope of getting young Ava Barry back home for Christmas?”

“For example, in the event of a dissolution of the Dáil Gino Kenny’s bill for medicinal cannabis would fall and the process would be set back months or years. Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly did marvellous work behind the scenes to keep that bill alive, while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would happily have seen it disappear. Gino continues to work on the bill, and while thousands of families would benefit from medicinal cannabis, none are as clearly mistreated by the Southern State than Ava Barry and her family.”

“For anyone who may not know, Ava is a 7 year old child receiving medicinal cannabis treatment in Holland. Her two sisters and her brother are younger than her, and are at home in Ireland for school. Ava cannot get the treatment she needs here, because of the inability of the State to get it’s act together. All the current wrangling between FF/FG serves to do is increase the risk of young Ava, her siblings and parents being forgotten and spending Christmas in a foreign State. Simon Harris’ “Compassionate Access Programme” won’t progress either when he’s out on the campaign trail.”

“Southern Ireland has long had a questionable attitude to the prioritisation and care of children, and it seems that isn’t going to change any time soon; while it’s obvious to objective observers that Táiniste Fitzgerald has a lot of explaining to do, it doesn’t seem obvious to her or the Taoiseach, and certainly not to Fianna Fáil the damage their games do. If Táiniste Fitzgerald doesn’t go and has to be pushed, the sound of Fianna Fáil crowing about their little victory will again drown out the sound of a small child’s voice seeking to be heard.”

“The depths of the self-interest of the political establishment are at a new low. Fitzgerald can start by doing the decent thing, rather than risk dissolution of the Dáil, and Varadkar and Martin might show a tiny amount of empathy or even a little Statesmanship; they could prioritise a 7 year old little girl who goes to bed at night away from a parent and from her brother and sisters, and ensure legislation is passed to bring little Ava home, before they go off on their hustings.”

Pearse Doherty TD says government has forgotten about mortgage crisis

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, has said the government has forgotten about the 80,000 families in mortgage arrears. He said the promises in the programme for government have been watered down, put on the long finger or simply dropped altogether.

Speaking at a Public Meeting in Swords organised by Louise O’Reilly TD, Deputy Doherty said:

“In December the Central Bank published its latest figures on mortgage arrears. A total of 79,562 (11 per cent) of accounts were in arrears. This is still a huge crisis happening day in day out for the thousands of Irish people affected, yet it barely gets a mention any more from the government!

“421 properties were taken into possession by lenders during the third quarter of 2016. That is over 4 homes a day being taken over. The government think this issue is gone away, they think it’s in the past. They are wrong.

“Promises to review the insolvency thresholds and set up a new Special Mortgages Court sit on the legislative programme 6 months after they were due to be published. A commitment that the Central Bank would amend the Code of Conduct seems to have been rebuffed altogether by Governor Lane.

“The Abhaile MABS service is up and running but is only scratching the surface in the number of people in arrears it has helped out. This government in permanent crisis has well and truly taken its eye off the ball when it comes to mortgages.

“Sinn Féin will put in place real solutions, not promises.

“We will protect the Family Home in law to a greater degree. My legislation to do exactly that was voted down in 2013. We also do not accept that vultures are part of the solution. If we can’t get rid of them they need to be taxed, regulated and not fed by the State’s own banks.

“The 80,000 families in arrears deserve to be front and centre in political debate. This is not an issue that has gone away.”

The POLITICAL CRISIS in the Six Counties is deepening

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.


There is no possibility of Sinn Féin propping up Fine Gael in Government. That’s the role of Fianna Fáil – Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said there is no possibility of his party propping up a Fine Gael government.

Gerry Adams TD

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.”

An un-Civil War?

“Ireland unequal will never be at peace”

The recent media exchanges on the formation of a new Government have focussed on a number of items, including what will happen with Uisce Éireann. They have also focussed on small trivial issues, distracting from the more important work at hand.

Sinn Féin County PRO Fachtna Roe said: “The question of water taxes is a fundamental one for many in Ireland. Tipperary delivered a resounding blow to Fine Gael on February 26th, leaving the county without Fine Gael representation for the first time since the foundation of the State.”

“The Labour Party also found itself on the receiving of electoral wrath, with their Minister barely squeaking back to Leinster House on transfers. Like his colleagues, he is now but a place-holder, and no longer a Minister with a mandate or with authority.”

“The failure of the two large conservative parties to agree to coalesce is a failing that must be traced back to our history to be understood. These are the parties that grew from the Civil War that raged following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.”

“That there has been so much discussion even about who called who, and when, and how indicates that there is more that separates these two groups than mere policy; and clearly, there isn’t much of a policy divide between them anyway. What really separates them is their past animosity towards each other. That animosity is the same thing that allowed each party to define themselves best as ‘not the other’, rather than by any fundamental differences in policy.”

Sinn Féin Cllr Martin Browne of Cashel.

Cllr Martin Browne added: “We see today a situation similar to that which prevailed in the 1930’s where two sides with not much between them are opposed on the ground that they were opposed to each other in the past, and that’s their preferred position.”

“In reality – taking water as the example – the only difference is personalities and pride.”

“Fianna Fáil began the job of bringing in the water tax, and Fine Gael with gusto implemented the Fianna Fáil policy. We shouldn’t be fooled in particular with how Fianna Fáil are saying they’ll do away with anything. They’ll flip-flop again on Uisce Éireann. They’ll always take the populist position and count on the electorate having a short memory. Fine Gael are no better because they have their own agenda of privatisation which is populist for their voters.”

Cllr David Dunne added: “The truth is that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are driven solely to be on top of each other, to have jobs for the boys – their boys – and to maintain the status quo.”

Cllr Davy Dunne of Sinn Féin, Carrick-on-Suir

“Neither party cares much about equality, fairness, social justice, or doing the right thing, unless that will get them votes. Let them squabble over who called who, and let them have their ’round-table’ discussion because they think that sounds more grand. In the end, they’re two sides of the one coin debating who is most valuable to themselves.”

“Both parties need to get over themselves and find a compromise, but to realise in doing so that the majority of voters want Uisce Éireann gone.”

Fachtna Roe added: “The truth of the current situation is deadlock. Fine Gael cannot hold power, and Fianna Fáil cannot take power. Both parties need to get on with the job of forming a Government, but remember as they do so that Uisce Éireann and placing a tax on life has been rejected by the electorate.”

“But they must also start to address issues of social and other inequality – to include a right to housing.”

“If this isn’t achieved, we’ll be marching again. To paraphrase Pádraig Pearse, ‘Ireland unequal shall never be at peace‘.”

Images from count day #1

Images from count day #2

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Gerry Adams comments as polls close in election 2016

Speaking at the close of polls this evening Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said:

Séamie Morris with Uactharán Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams.

“I would like to thank all the Sinn Féin candidates and their families, our canvassers and supporters who gave so generously of their time.

“In particular I would like to thank the citizens who have come out to invest their votes and their hopes in Sinn Féin.

“Sinn Féin stood in this election as the party with a plan for a fair recovery, for 250,000 jobs, for investment in health, housing and for fair taxation.

“Sinn Féin is the only party with a plan to reclaim the Republic promised in the proclamation and to deliver Irish Unity.

“In this election Sinn Féin faced the three establishment parties and sections of the media, who promoted the politics of fear and tax breaks for the better off at the cost of housing and health.

“Their only interest in the north has been to score cheap political points, rather than build on the achievements of the peace and political processes.

“Over the course of this campaign we have presented a real alternative to the failed politics of 94 years of cronyism, conservatism and inequality embodied by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

“I believe this election will see an increase in support for Sinn Féin and for progressive politics.”