Thursday, 11 March 2010
VIDEO AND TEXT OF GERRY ADAMS SPEECH TO SINN FEIN ARD FHEIS/ ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Sinn Féin Party President,Gerry Adams MP
MLA addresses Ard Fheis 2010
A half a million citizens unemployed. Social welfare
payments cut. Wages cut. Health and Education in
crisis. Families facing eviction. Mass emigration back
again. Parts of the country under water. In other parts the
drinking water is unsafe. Billions of taxpayers money
gifted to a dysfunctional, toxic banking system.
Widespread anger, rage even, at the government parties. And
a sense of hopelessness and disbelief.
It would be easy for me to stand up here and to rail
against the government – to become Mr. Angry for a half an
hour. But that is not enough.
Most people know how bad this government is. They elected
it. Which is why there is such a sense of betrayal. Most
people also know that the policies of a Fine Gael led
government would be no different from this one. The Irish
people deserve better.
Everyone who lives on this island has the right to a home;
to a safe environment; to access to education and
child-care; to civil and religious liberty; and to
meaningful work with proper terms and conditions. Everyone
has the right to health care. Everybody has the right to
equality, and to respect and dignity.
This is the essence of republicanism. It is the essence of
Is any of this reflected in today’s Ireland? The answer to
that is no.
Sinn Féin believes in a genuine republic. Not a nominal
dictionary republic, but one in which the people are truly
I gceann cúpla seachtain beidh muid ag ceiliúradh agus
cuimhní ar na haislingigh a chuaigh amach le linn Seachtain
na Cásca. D’ardaigh said brat na hÉireann os cionn Oifig an
Phoist anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath. Is maith is eol dúinn go
raibh fís ag na fir agus na mná seo. Bhí sé de rún acu
deireadh a chur le riail na Breataine sa tír seo agus tír
iomlán nua a thógáil anseo. Bhí fís acu don Phoblacht Nua
le saoirse ag croílár an chlár rialtais réabhlóideach
s’acu. An aithneodh siad an stát seo mar bhuaic na
haislinge sin? Ní dóigh liom é. The Proclamation of the
Republic asserts the need to cherish all the children of
the nation equally. It doesn’t say 26 counties of the
nation. It speaks of ALL the nation and ALL its parts. All
32 counties. The Proclamation speaks to ALL the children of
the Nation. It doesn’t say – unless you are poor or
elderly. Or unless you have autism; or learning
difficulties; or disabilities. Or unless you come from a
remote rural area. Or from Moyross or Sheriff Street; or
Strabane or Ballymena. It doesn’t say unless you are a
child in the care of the state. The protection of children
is a fundamental human right. The protection of children is
the responsibility of all of us and it should be guaranteed
in the constitution
The establishment parties, like us, know that republicanism
is in many ways the conscience of the Irish people. Little
wonder that they wrap themselves in republican rhetoric
while avoiding any genuine examination of the real meaning
of republicanism. Which brings us to the hard question. How
can society be changed? How can a real republic be
achieved? The answer to that starts in the heart. It is a
belief in people. That is the starting point. And what
starts in the heart has to move to the head. It is not
enough to wax lyrical about peoples’ rights.
We have to stand up for these rights. The people of Ireland
have yet to realise our destiny as a nation. We have yet to
complete our journey. This summer marks the 40th
Anniversary of the IRA appearing on the streets of Belfast
when Republicans joined with the people of the
Ballymaccarett in the defence of St. Matthews chapel and An
Trá Ghearr. That single act of resistance. This stand
against the Orange State marked the beginning of a journey
for many activists. That journey has seen struggle and
strategies played out on the streets, in the jails and
round the negotiating table. During this time Irish society
has changed in many fundamental ways Imagine what can be
achieved now in these more peaceful times with the leveling
of the political playing field and in a climate were the
phony republicanism of the establishment is being laid
bare. So, we have to build on all that is good in our
society. We have to recognise all our heroes and heroines;
all the carers and health workers; all the active citizens
in the community and the voluntary sector, people involved
in sports, the arts and music; all those citizens who
create hope in place of misery, and common purpose in place
of mé féinism and selfishness. The key to building the new
republic, democratically shaped by the people, is to start
now. We have to embrace our strengths. Our language. Our
unique culture. Our history.
And all of us who believe in a better way, in a just
society, in a real republic; we need to make our beliefs
relevant to more and more people. We need to be about
empowerment. We need to raise our voices. We need to make a
If ever Ireland needed leadership it needs it now. Leaders
from throughout our communities. Leaders who will make a
stand. We need leaders who will give voice on the ground
and from the ground up, to the belief they have in their
hearts, so that hope and networks for change can be built.
We need leaders to ensure that no banker will evict a
family from their home.
That no farm of land will be sold off over a family’s head.
That no worker will be victimised. We need leaders to
ensure that no community will be robbed of its social
entitlements. But let me be clear about this. I am not
talking about leaders coming down to us from on high. I am
talking about everyone who is prepared to stand against
corruption, greed and injustice. Every woman, every man,
every citizen who makes such a stand is a leader. Every
little act of resistance, of rebellion, of protest, makes
change possible. Most struggles aren’t won by single
actions. Or by iconic leaders. Though they have their role.
They are won by people, taking individual actions, which
accumulate into irreversible change. It was true of the
suffragettes. It was true of the anti-apartheid movement.
It was true when Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat and
it is true here in Ireland. When the Celtic Tiger economy
was at its height, and when the surplus of wealth was the
greatest in the history of this state, the establishment
refused to distribute the wealth in the common good and to
secure the future.
They would not nationalise the wealth.
But now they are happy to nationalise the debt. There is
talk of a Cabinet reshuffle. This government doesn’t need a
reshuffle. This government needs to go. Do they really
think the people are amadáns. Do they really expect the
people to foot the bill for the bankers, the developers and
their political cronies? The people need to send them a
message. The people need to tell them to get lost. Don’t
wait until the next election. Make a stand now. Be a
leader. Don’t wait for anyone else.
That’s the main thing, to stand up for ourselves. And for
others. That is what happened throughout our history. In
our homes. On the streets. On lonely hillsides. By
glensides. In the prisons.
This is what happened in the history of human kind. It’s
what is happening across the globe. Representatives from
many of these struggles are with us tonight.
Cead mile Failte romhaibh to all of our visitors.
Especially, to our friends from the Basque country; from
the USA and Canada; from Cuba; from South Africa and from
Palestine. All these struggles show the enduring power of
the human spirit in the search for freedom and justice.
Change is possible, if we really want it. And those of us
who care about the world; who care about Ireland; those of
us who believe in the people of this island, we have no
choice but to make a stand, particularly for those citizens
who cannot at this time stand up for themselves.
Sinn Féin is opposed to this government because it’s not
fair and because its policies are unsustainable.
But we are also opposed to them because there is an
alternative that will work. Sinn Féin has produced
thoughtful, costed and effective policies to chart a course
beyond this recession. Sinn Féin has set out how we would
do this through a major €3.2 billion stimulus package.
- We would establish a jobs retention fund for small and
- We would set up a youth jobs fund to create 20,000 jobs.
- We would use the public sector to kickstart the economy
- We would include a social clause in public contracts for
hiring of a set number of apprentices, young unemployed and
long term unemployed, as has been done in the north by the
Sinn Féin Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy.
- We would reclaim Brand Ireland and introduce an
aggressive all-Ireland export strategy.
All of this is possible. Jobs can be protected. Jobs can be
created. Frontline public services can be sustained and
developed if public finance is raised in a fair way. This
means real social solidarity. This means uniting public and
private sector workers, not dividing them.
Among our proposals are:
· a third rate of tax for those earning more than €100,000
· a solidarity tax of 1% on all assets worth more than €1
million, excluding farm land;
· and an end to the hundreds of unfair tax reliefs which
this government refuses to get rid of.
The biggest scandal of all is the pouring of billions of
taxpayers’ money into a toxic banking system and NAMA.
There is no NAMA for workers. And now the banks, which pay
their CEOs half a million Euro a year, are increasing
interest rates for the same taxpayers who are bailing them
out. And at the same time they are refusing credit to small
or medium businesses. And they are getting away with it.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called it right when he said ‘the
closer you are to a minister in the Dublin government the
less you will suffer.’ This Fianna Fail/Green Party
government has also inflicted deep cuts on the farming
sector and on disadvantaged rural areas. Sinn Féin
understands the difficulties facing rural communities. Our
TDs and our Senator have produced three major Oireachtas
reports. These set out proposals to regenerate the west, to
ensure a viable future for fishing and farming communities,
and to create more jobs in the agri-food sector. In the
north Minister for Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew, is
tackling the needs of farmers in disadvantaged areas and
the needs of rural women.
Ó thaobh an tuaiscirt de, tá sárobair déanta ag Martin
McGuinness agus foireann na gcainteanna Sinn Féin. Bhí an
tionól agus na hinstitiúidí uile Éireann i gcontúirt mar
gheall ar chonstaicí an DUP. Ach le díograis agus fócas ár
ndaoine, bhí Sinn Féin agus an DUP ábalta teacht ar
chomhaontú nua. Rinne Aontachtóirí conradh le
Poblachtánaigh agus bhog muid an próiseas iomlán seo ar
aghaidh go dtí an chéad chéim eile. Just over a month ago
we concluded an agreement at Hillsborough with the DUP on
the way forward.
Many thought this couldn’t happen. But it did. This was a
hugely important, and symbolic moment. I want to pay
tribute to Martin McGuinness, and Gerry Kelly and our other
Ministers, as well as to the Sinn Féin negotiating team,
for all their hard work. Here is proof, if proof was needed
of the importance of negotiations as an area of struggle.
Under this Agreement powers on policing and justice will be
transferred in April. By the end of the year there will
also be the transfer of powers from London to Belfast to
deal with the issue of parades. More powers moving from
England to Ireland. Outstanding issues including Irish
language rights will also be delivered on and there is
additional funding for the language. This Agreement is a
staging post. It is proof that change is possible.
Sinn Féin achieved all this by being bold and by being
focussed. By standing up for ourselves. By standing up to
the governments. By standing up for the rights of citizens
in a continuous process of change.
The last year has been a challenging one for us, for the
peace process and for the people of this island.
It has also been a difficult period for my clann. I thank
everyone who has expressed solidarity with my family.
Colette in particular has asked me to thank everyone who
sent her get well messages. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go
leir I want to congratulate Maurice Quinlivan on his
determination to clear his good name. In the end Willie
tripped over his own moustache but be assured he would
still be in this awful government if Maurice had not made a
stand. Maith an fear Maurice. Will that end the attacks on
Sinn Féin? Of course not. The only difference between
Willie and the other smearers and backstabbers is that
Willie got caught out. As this government lurches toward an
election we can expect more of this. But we have a message
for the government and its fellow travellers. Let there be
no doubt about this. Given the mandate, Sinn Féin will
dismantle the culture of political cronyism and the golden
This proud party is interested only in making a positive
difference in the lives of the Irish people. Those who say
that this isn’t possible should look to what is emerging
from our efforts in government in the north.
This includes tackling fuel poverty; it means free travel
for the over 60s; the ending of prescription charges; and
the freezing of the regional rate. Sinn Féin Ministers have
introduced class room assistants in every P1 and P2 class;
we have invested in schools; in jobs; in infrastructure. We
have staved off water charges; and brought forward funding
to tackle rural poverty and social exclusion. Everything
that Sinn Féin has done is rooted in the equality agenda.
That is why some of the big initiatives, particularly on
education, have met such resistance. The opposition to the
removal of the 11 plus is mainly class driven and arises
from the desire of a small minority to protect an unequal
system. Parents want the best for their children. So do we.
Our commitment is to ensure that every school is a good
school and that every child has full equality of
opportunity. I am absolutely convinced that this will be
the outcome, not least because of the leadership shown by
the Minister of Education, Caitríona Ruane and progressive
educationalists, and teachers.
In the next few weeks the Westminster elections will give
us the opportunity to strengthen our mandate. We will be
making a stand in every constituency in the Six Counties.
If the northern Assembly runs to its full term all
communities in the north will have benefited from Sinn Féin
in government. We are already planning for the next
This will build on the successes of our Assembly team and
set more challenging targets and goals for Sinn Féin in
government. And let me invite the viewers at home to help
us write that manifesto for change. Sinn Féin will once
again be holding Town Hall meetings. We want to be a
citizen’s conduit to government. I invite you to come along
– to put your issue – your needs – your requirements on the
Unionism? Unionism knows that Sinn Féin is a willing
partner in a government that is responsive, effective and
delivering. One of the big tasks facing the Executive is to
eradicate sectarianism. The vast majority of people want
this. There is work for everyone. And it is up to unionists
to demonstrate that unionism and sectarianism are not the
same and that they are as opposed to sectarianism as we
Luaigh mé níos luaithe na haislingigh naoi deag se deag
agus fís na Poblachta a bhí acu. Bhí fís ag Wolfe Tone
roimhe sin. Chuir seisean síos ar an nasc leis an Bhreatain
mar foinse dár gcuid trioblóidí polaitiúla go léir.
Caithfidh muid teacht ar ais chuige agus muid ag ullmhú don
chéad chuid eile den turas don Phoblacht Nua. In many ways
we are back with Tone and the need to unite catholic,
protestant and dissenter. We do this by making friends with
unionists and developing normal human relationships based
on tolerance, respect and equality. Let us be clear about
this; the unity of people in everyday life and the unity of
this great country of ours is part of the same human
endeavour. Sinn Féin believes that a free, independent and
United Ireland makes political and economic sense. Last
year I set out our intention to engage with the Irish
diaspora and to marshal its political strength in support
of a United Ireland. Over the last twelve months thousands
of people came together in New York, San Francisco, Toronto
and London at major conferences to put their weight behind
the demand for Irish unity. This campaign is gathering
momentum. Now is the time to make partition history. Now is
the time to build an Ireland we can be proud of. Sinn Féin
is united and strong. Sinn Féin is looking to the future.
Sinn Féin is making a stand. The British army, the heavy
gangs, the old Orange regime and slíbhín governments here
could not break us. Censorship, the prisons and the death
squads could not break us. And no amount of black
propaganda in the Tony O’Reilly press will break us either.
20 years ago Nelson Mandela – Madiba – the first President
of a free South Africa - walked free from prison. 20 years
ago there was war in Ireland. So, when someone tells you
that that apartheid would never end; or that peace is not
possible; or that a United Ireland is ‘pie in the sky’; or
that we can’t make a deal with the DUP; or that we can’t
beat this recession; don’t believe them – not for one
second. Believe in yourself. Make a stand. Make it happen.