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Mary Lou McDonald Away Day Opening Address 2019 | Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin – On Your Side

11 September, 2019 – by Mary Lou McDonald TD

A Chairde, September is a time for refocusing. A time for recommitting. A time for thinking about the future we want to build. September is also a time for renewal. Renewing our politics and activism. Renewing our bonds of comradeship and togetherness. Renewing our determination to realise the goals of those republicans who pointed the way forward. Delivery Tá Sinn Féin ag obair ar mhaithe gach saoránach Níl sé éasca i gcónaí Sinn Féin is working to deliver for all our citizens. It is not always easy.  Things don’t always go the way we hope. But republicans are about the bigger picture. We can take the hard knocks and face the bad days.  It is how we deal with the setbacks that defines us. After the recent elections, across every parish in Ireland we went out and engaged with our members, our supporters and those who voted for us and those who did not.  And I want to say to you that we heard what you said and we are acting on it.  We should never underestimate the scale of our cause – realising the republic. This is a big, big job we have undertaken together. (1)There are hundreds of thousands of people across this island who choose Sinn Féin to represent them,  to stand up for them,  to defend their rights and their economic interests. They believe in Sinn Féin. They trust in Sinn Féin. They know a better Ireland and a brighter future is possible. It is our job to deliver and we will not let them down not now, not ever. It is our job to change the course of Irish history so that prosperity can be enjoyed by the many, not the few. Brexit And history is unfolding in profound and dramatic ways all around us. Brexit is shaping the times in which we live. Our island faces its greatest threat and challenge in a generation. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson follows a fantasy in which the rights and interests of the Irish people can be readily cast aside. It is time to call Mr Johnson’s fantasy what it is – profoundly stupid and immeasurably dangerous. Mr Johnson’s stupid, dangerous fantasy cannot become Ireland’s nightmare. Brexit is a very English problem the consequences of which must not be shifted onto Ireland. As the 31st of October approaches and the pressure mounts, neither An Taoiseach nor Michael Barnier can be blink in the face of Tory intransigence. Too much is at stake. Despite Mr Johnson’s claims to the contrary, the path he is following would lead to the reimposition of a hard border. The British Prime Minister needs to hear this: that the Irish people will not allow our country, our communities, and our economy to be vandalised. There can be no return of a hard border, no customs checks, no more division on this island to suit the needs of British governments that has no interest in Ireland’s future. Caithfear Comhaontú an Chéasta a chosaint. The Good Friday Agreement, the Irish people’s agreement, must be defended at all costs. The Backstop, the Irish people’s insurance policy, remains the bottom-line, the very minimum needed to protect our economic interests. We understand acutely the importance of the Backstop. Sinn Féin came up with the solution when we proposed that the North should be designated Special Status within the EU. Despite the noisy rhetoric from many quarters who said it couldn’t be done, here we are today defending the Backstop to the hilt. The bottomline guarantees in the Backstop cannot be bartered away.The future of our peace, of our society and of our all island economy demands the political resolve and leadership to see Ireland’s interests upheld. Brexit and Budget 2020
 Sé Mí Meán Fomhair an am a dhéanann muid ullmhú don Cáináisnéis chomh maith. The forthcoming Budget will be delivered as we approach the Brexit crescendo. Never before has the need to deliver a progressive and fair budget been more acute. Leo Varadkar, Paschal Donohoe and this Fine Gael government must realise that Brexit will impact everybody. If we are all in this together, that means no one can be left behind. This budget must deliver to Irish workers and Irish businesses – security, protections and confidence for the future. This security, this confidence does not presently exist because this government is not capable of getting the big jobs done. From the National Broadband Plan, to the Children’s Hospital, to overruns in the health budget, we have a government entrenched in debacle and incompetence. With Brexit on our doorstep, Fine Gael cannot keep asking ordinary people to gaze hopefully toward the light at the end of tunnel, especially when that light gets ever further away. (4)People who work hard in their jobs need decent wages and they need to see those wages go further.  Hard working families should not see their incomes hoovered up by rip-off insurance costs, extortionate rents and sky-high utility bills. People cannot live and prosper on a diet of broken promises. They want solutions and Sinn Féin is the party of solutions. The government talks of a Rainy Day Fund. The Brexit weather front is moving in. It is raining. We have proposed a €2 billion stabilisation fund because we must be prepared for the economic and social shock of Brexit. The Brexit Omnibus Bill needs to be revisited.  It is not fit for purpose. In the Dáil, we have focused on providing solutions to  the real challenges people face in everyday life. To this end, our team has produced upwards of 40 pieces of legislation. Similarly, Sinn Féin’s Budget measures will again present tangible solutions. We will focus on ensuring that people can build and afford a decent life and that anybody who falls behind will be supported, not left behind. Brexit must not be used as an excuse for Fine Gael to lurch even further to the right. In fact, Brexit provides a reason to do the very opposite.  To prioritise the welfare and well-being of ordinary citizens by investing in the things that will help strengthen our society, bolster our economy, and give our people the best chance in life. Tokenistic tax cuts that mostly benefit the well-off are not going to cut it in the Brexit era. My message, my challenge to this Taoiseach, to this government is this: Deliver a budget that ensures that any sick person can see a doctor, get a hospital bed and access treatment in a timely fashion. Deliver a budget that provides modern housing solutions for families & communities, instead of enriching corporate landlords. Deliver a budget that supports quality jobs and makes the recovery real for everybody by investing in infrastructure. Deliver a budget that gives rural Ireland a real chance. Sinn Féin has offered real solutions time and again. The government has knocked them back or ignored them. We will offer them again.Sinn Féin will show how to deliver the affordable houses needed.Sinn Féin will show how to end the rent, insurance and childcare fees rip offs. Sinn Féin will show how to Budget for a fair economy and a better society. Tá bealach níos fearr ann. Elections Brexit will also shape the context of forthcoming elections. The prospect of a Westminster Election grows by the day. In all likelihood there will be a General Election in the South sometime in the next six months and four by-elections. Tá Sinn Féin ullamh do na toghcháin seo. Sinn Féin is ready for all of these elections. In the North, when an election is called, we will stand on a strong, credible anti Brexit ticket. The DUP, for their part, will stand on a pro-Brexit platform. They must now know that they are supporting an agenda that is set on wrecking Ireland. Aligning themselves with the politics of London rather than with the politics of our communities at home spells calamity Sinn Féin will stand on an abstentionist ticket. No Irish democrat, no genuine Irish republican would ever take a seat in the British Parliament or swear an oath to the crown. I understand that people want solutions to Brexit. However, if anybody ever believed that solutions for Ireland are to be found at Westminster, surely that delusion has been swept away during the circus of the last fortnight. If Fianna Fáil feel differently, let them contest the election on a go-to-Westminster platform and see how they get on. Sinn Féin are abstentionists from Westminster. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael abstain from the North of Ireland.  We will not take lectures from the parties who looked the other way, who opted out and who abandoned northern nationalists. They won’t lecture us and they won’t  lecture northern nationalists. In the South, Brexit has provided political cover for the sham Confidence and Supply government of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. It is a government on its last legs, worn down by the weight of PR spin, having failed to deliver real solutions. As with the forthcoming by-elections, Sinn Féin will be ready to fight the General Election on the basis of republican left policies. Policies that will make people’s lives better by ending the rip-off and lifting the burden and stress caused by the housing crisis and an economy that is rigged against them – a platform that offer solutions. Irish Unity In all of these elections, Sinn Féin will continue to argue for Irish Unity as the best idea for Ireland’s future. Unity is the positive. Unity is progressive. Unity is a chance to realign Irish life to harness the vast potential and the hopes of all those who call Ireland home.  The folly of the Tory Brexit has given a modern shape to a historical imperative – to end the involvement of the British government in Irish affairs. Partition has been a disaster. Unity makes sense. It provides for a future without a border that has fostered division – a future in which all our communities can move forward together. I believe that preparations for Irish Unity must start now. It is the responsible thing to do. Irish Unity cannot be the project of Sinn Féin alone. An Taoiseach and the Irish government must become advocates for unity. I am very certain that the ending of partition will only be achieved through the coming together of all strands of Irish society. The unity of our people, unity of purpose will deliver an end to partition in our time. Beidh Éire Aontaithe le linn ár saol. The Dáil Term
 Friends, Sinn Féin is the party that is on the side of ordinary people, the party determined to create a new Ireland. We are the party of solutions. We have the policies, the people and the political will to deliver. In this Dáil term, we will continue to hold this government to account and bring forward legislation that advances our political vision. We will work for a fair economy, decent jobs, union rights and long-term security for workers We will work for a health system where treatment is delivered based on medical need, not on ability to pay. We will work to once again make education the best route for advancing equality. We will work for real and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. A fair, just and equal Ireland is always our goal – an Ireland in which no one is left behind. This is the type of Ireland envisaged by those who signed the proclamation. A truly democratic Ireland – free and united with equality of citizenship. It was good idea in 1916. It remains our inspiration and our aim today. As we approach this new political term, we renew, refocus and recommit to this vision.

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