Sinn Fein Presidential Address 2010
A Chathaoirligh, a Theachtaí is a cháirde go léir,
Fearaim céad míle fáilte romhaibh ar fad ag an
I am honoured to welcome you all to the 106th
Ard-Fheis of Sinn Féin. The past year has been an eventful one since
last we met in national conference.
It began with agreement being reached in the Six
Counties on the devolution of limited powers of British policing to
the Stormont regime. This marked one of the final steps in the
restructuring of British rule in Ireland.
However the nature and reality of British
occupation on the ground has not changed – last month it is reported
British soldiers participated in house raids in Derry – but we are
glad to note the attitude of Irish Republicans to it has not changed
either as evidenced by the increased level of acts of resistance.
Within Maghaberry the POWs engaged in a heroic
campaign of resistance to the attempts of the Stormont regime to
Meanwhile a war is being waged on working people
throughout Ireland and the world in order to prop up the failed and
discredited economics which has caused the present collapse.
For Sinn Féin the past year marked a period of
transition. Our Patron Ruairí Ó Brádaigh stepped down as President
at last year’s Ard-Fheis – a position he held with distinction and
honour from 1970 with only a break of three years from 1983 to 1986.
However Ruairí, we are delighted to report did not retire but
continued to make his valued contribution to our national leadership
and our Movement to which he has devoted almost 61 years of his
Over the course of the year our movement
withstood attack from a small minority of erstwhile comrades. The
refusal of our members to be distracted from the primary goals and
principles of our Movement is something of which you all should be
On February 4 it was announced that a
Hillsborough Agreement Mark II had been reached between the DUP and
the Provisionals for the devolution of limited powers of British
policing to the Stormont Executive. This came following a
protracted “carnival of reaction” at Hillsborough Castle.
Even media commentators pointed to the inherent
fault lines, which exist in the Six-County statelet, Stephen Collins
in The Irish Times of January 30 observed: “The Belfast Agreement
enshrined a dysfunctional society’s sectarian divisions into
governmental institutions.” While on January 31 Tom McGurk writing
in his column in the Sunday Business Post on said: “Stormont may
have new seating and the latest technology but, underneath it all,
the DUP still stands for what it has always stood for -- political
supremacy over the nationalist community.” This is no more than
Republican Sinn Féin pointed out 12 years ago.
In a statement the following day, An tUachtaráin,
Sinn Féin Poblachtach, Des Dalton pointed out: “As they don the
uniforms and carry the weapons of their one-time enemy, it can be
truly said that the ‘poachers have become gamekeepers. When the new
‘Broy Harriers’ take to the streets under Provo direction history
can be accurately said to be repeating itself. As British rule
reaches into the grass-roots in the Six Counties, British
Imperialism in its updated mode seeks to make itself more
acceptable. However history teaches us that it will once more be
On February 6 our Vice-President Geraldine Taylor
said that: “The agreement at Hillsborough is just a further
indication of the depths that unionised Provisionals will go to
uphold British rule in our country. They have now added the
administration of British policing and justice to their already full
‘portfolio’ in administering British rule on Irish people in the
Occupied Six Counties.” She described it as “the same old British
boot but with a willing Provo foot”.
During protracted negotiations it was revealed
that the three sections of unionism were engaged in discussions with
the British Conservative Party about an electoral pact, which came
as no surprise. The scaly hand of the Orange order had of course
emerged in all of this.
The historical forces of unionism and British
imperialism remain at work and the return to some form of majority
rule cannot be far around the corner as both the DUP and the British
Tories have signalled.
Reaching for the “Orange Card” has long been an
option of first resort for the British Tories in their quest for
political power at Westminster. In his maiden speech to the British
House of Lords in the week following the signing of the Treaty of
Surrender in 1921 the leader of Unionism Edward Carson lamented his
role in the Tory machinations: “What a fool I was. I was only a
puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game
that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”
Broken into five sections, the document agreed at
Hillsborough also contains a range of measures.
Key points include:
• While the Six-County justice minister would
have the same status as all other ministers in the power-sharing
cabinet, he would have the power to make certain decisions without
conferring with the Executive while issues of British ‘national
security’ remain the prerogative of the British government and its
intelligence agency MI5.
• A six-member ‘working group’, was to be
appointed by the Stormont First Minister and Deputy First Minister,
with the task of formulating a framework for new Orange parade
• Its work would place emphasis on local
agreements. It is this aspect which caused most fear for many
nationalist communities and how the rights of local residents and
the Orange Order can be squared
• Significantly there was no commitment to an
Irish Language Bill - promised with the St Andrews Agreement in
2006- or education reform or the much-promised Bills of Rights.
This devolution of British policing and justice
powers changes nothing. The Stormont Executive will administer the
limited devolved responsibilities for British policing and justice
as a proxy for the British government.
Political policing continues to be directed as
before from London. Under the St Andrews Agreement, amended by the
Hillsborough Agreement, “security intelligence” in the Six Occupied
Counties remains the responsibility of the MI5 Security Service with
the RUC/PSNI in a support role. This is not the devolution of
policing and justice powers. London will remain in control.
With an increased budget and a new HQ in Palace
Barracks in Hollywood, Co Down MI5 will lead the British war machine
in Ireland. MI5 is not accountable to the Stormont Policing Board
for security-related matters but it will be available to brief the
Board in secret on what it considers “appropriate”.
For their part, the Republican youth gave the
RUC/PSNI their response on the streets of many towns in the occupied
area. At a press conference held in Republican Sinn Féin’s Ulster
Office on the Falls Road in Belfast on March 4 it was revealed that
at least three baton rounds (plastic bullets) were fired by British
Crown Forces in the Drumbeg area of Craigavon in County Armagh on
The RUC entered the area at around 10pm. They
claimed this was in connection with the discovery of a suspicious
object – however this was simply a gas cylinder, which had been
discovered some 500 yards away at 12 noon.
The British incursion into the area was resisted
by nationalist youths, and three baton rounds were fired. Two of
these were fired at the ground whilst the RUC fired a third at a
Republican, causing him serious injuries to his chest.
Republican Sinn Féin organised a press conference
in its Ulster Office on the Falls Road in Belfast on February 19
which was attended by Des Dalton as well as the two Vice-Presidents
Geraldine Taylor and Fergal Moore. The assembled journalists from
the Irish News, the London Times, the Guardian as well as the Press
Association were told of communities such as Lurgan who were under
siege from the forces of the British Crown.
The past year has seen an increase in the number
of acts of resistance directed against continued British rule in
Ireland. In February alone incidents across the Six Counties pointed
to a level of intensity, which the 26-County Justice Minister Dermot
Ahern (RTÉ Radio 1 This Week February 28) acknowledged was as high
as anything over the past 40 years.
The head of MI5 Jonathan Evans in a
speech on September 17 acknowledged:
“Perhaps we were giving insufficient weight to
the pattern of history over the last hundred years which shows that
whenever the main body of Irish Republicanism has reached a
political accommodation and rejoined constitutional politics, a
hardliner rejectionist group would fragment off and continue with
the so called “’armed struggle’.” Like the French Bourbon kings the
English it seems have forgotten nothing but have learned nothing
after 800 years of occupation.
A new generation of people who
continue to resist British rule on the ground have been dismissed as
“disaffected youth without either aspiration or hope” by one
commentator. It is nothing new to dismiss young Republicans in such
Over the decades the idealism and belief of each
new risen generation has been dismissed in similar terms as a means
of denying the legitimacy of the Irish Republican demand for a free
Ireland. Such denial does a disservice to the idealism and hope of
young Irish people for a New Ireland. We salute this new risen
A survey carried out by Jonathan Tonge --
Professor of Politics Studies and Head of the Department of Politics
Studies at the University of Liverpool – confirms the fact that
there is still a significant section of the Irish people who oppose
British rule in Ireland.
Researchers spoke to 1,002 people across the Six
Counties from a range of backgrounds. The face-to-face interviews
were carried out in the three weeks after the British general
election. It was part of a wider study but included questions about
attitudes to Republicans.
Respondents were asked whether they had sympathy
for the reasons why Republican groups, such as the Continuity IRA,
continued the armed struggle.
8.2% (14% of those identifying themselves as
nationalists) said yes.
Some 12.9 per cent of nationalists (7.8 per cent
of the overall survey) claimed to ‘strongly like’ or ‘like’
Republican Sinn Fein while 7.5 per cent of nationalists (4.0 per
cent of overall survey) strongly liked or liked 32-County
Eighteen per cent of nationalist (eleven per cent
of overall) respondents believed the RUC/PSNI to be very similar to
what was described as “the old RUC”. Among those who designated
themselves as “nationalist” this was 18%.
Prof Tonge writes: “One of the mantras of the
peace process is that ‘dissident’ Republicans have no support. To
suggest otherwise risks talking up a disparate, seemingly desperate,
band of diehards. It also disturbs the orthodoxy found on my side of
the Irish Sea that Northern Ireland lies securely in the box marked
‘solved’. Yet the assumption that dissidents have no support has
been precisely that – an assumption, untroubled by actual evidence
either way. Until now, that is.”
Not surprisingly the findings were either largely
ignored by the bulk of the media or dismissed by the Stormont
Speaking at the launch Dr Martyn Frampton’s
Legion of the Rearguard: Dissident Irish Republicanism in London on
November 2 the former general officer commanding (GOC) of the
British army in the Six Counties between 1990 and 1993, General Sir
John Wilsey, said that he shared the same conclusion as the author
about the situation within the Six Counties: “which is that Irish
Republicanism has not yet been satisfied”. He went on to say that
while most people in what he calls Great Britain “feel that Ireland
is at peace and that it is over, those of us who are in touch with
what goes on across the water know very well that that is not so”.
He then poses a number of rhetorical questions: “If I had been in
the IRA I would be saying, did we achieve our goal? Did we unite
Ireland? Are we closer to a United Ireland now than we were when we
first started? And the answer to that is manifestly that we are
Speaking first on RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme
on August 8 and again on August 12 on BBC Radio Ulster British Crown
Minister Martin McGuinness claimed he had knowledge of secret talks
involving the British government, the 26-County Administration and
what were described in the media as “dissident Republicans”.
I repeat now what I stated in Bundoran on August
28, Republican Sinn Féin has not engaged in any such talks. The only
basis on which the leaders of Republican Ireland will engage in
talks with the British government will be to secure a full British
withdrawal from Ireland. We cannot be any clearer. Mr McGuiness we
suggest is playing his part in the machinery of British ‘black
Many nationalist communities feared part of the
price for securing the deal by the Provisionals involved forcing
loyalist parades on their communities as it emerged the key unionist
demand for an end to the Six-County Parades Commission was won by
them in the agreement.
The Provisionals and the DUP restricted
membership of the ‘working group’ set up to review marching
legislation to nominees from their own parties. However the
legislation proposed was far more sweeping than merely dealing with
Orange/Loyalist marches as set out in the Hillsborough Agreement.
As the journalist and political commentator
Éamonn McCann pointed out in the Derry Journal “There was no
indication in February that the group had been tasked to do anything
other than devise a system to replace the procedures of the Parades
Commission; no suggestion that it would be engaged in drafting a
new, wide-ranging public order act.”
The provisions of the Public Assemblies, Parades
and Protests Bill (Northern Ireland) (sic) as McCann points out:
“appear aimed at least as much at curtailing protests against job
losses and cuts in public services as resolving communal
disagreements over marches”.
The scope of its provisions will affect the
rights of every single person to organise themselves collectively as
workers, trade unionists, community campaigners and political
Gatherings of 50 or more people would require
notice of 37 days to be given, and failure to comply could lead to
imprisonment of up to six months. Clause 5 defined “public assembly”
as covering any public procession, meeting or protest, apart from
funerals and gatherings which “The First and deputy First Ministers
specifically order to be excluded”.
The legislation is an attempt to control protest
and silence dissent within the Six-County state. On September 27
Peter Robinson announced that the proposed bill was being put on
hold because of the continued refusal of the Orange Order to endorse
the legislation. It is unlikely this is the last we will hear of it.
Another ‘marching season’ witnessed a number of
Orange/loyalist marches forced through nationalist communities by
the British colonial police. Republican Sinn Féin stood shoulder to
shoulder with those communities.
On July 12 members of Republican Sinn Féin took
part in the sit down in solidarity with the local residents.
Upwards of 300 members of the RUC/PSNI surrounded
the peaceful protesters who sat down on the main road despite
repeated attempts by armed RUC personnel to forcibly remove them.
British Crown Minister Gerry Kelly accompanied by
his entourage stayed away from the area, but later gave the
impression of having tried to play some kind of mediating role.
Over 100 plastic bullets were fired during
subsequent rioting with several people injured by the indiscriminate
firing by the RUC. Water cannons were also deployed in an attempt to
push the residents back before the loyalists were escorted through
by the RUC/PSNI.
In the aftermath the Provisionals engaged in
felon-setting of the community and in particular of the Greater
Ardoyne Residents Collective. In a statement issued on July 15
following the arrest of two of its members the McKelvey/Steele
Cumann of Republican Sinn Féin said: “The question must be asked
were their names and details handed in by members of Provisional
Sinn Féin who were out taking details at the protest against
sectarian marches on Monday (July 12)?”
It also emerged that the Provisionals and other
Stormont parties were calling on the Six-County Housing Executive
and Social Services to penalise people who had protested against the
forcing of the Orange/loyalist march by cutting their benefits,
taking their homes and even threatening that their children could be
taken into care.
As Republican Sinn Féin commented: “This is
surely an example of Stormont ministers abusing their influence,
acting as judge jury and executioner.”
The forcing of contentious Orange Parades also
led to riots and disturbances in Portadown and other parts of the
Six Counties. Ard Chomhairle member John Joe McCusker played a
leading role in opposing the forcing of a sectarian march through
The Six-County state is fundamentally
undemocratic, inherently sectarian and consequently an obstacle to
the creation of a New Ireland. The 1998 Stormont Agreement and the
St Andrews Agreement of 2006 merely institutionalised sectarianism
whilst denying the exercise of real All-Ireland democracy. Since
1921 there have been at least six agreements arising from the
enforced partition of Ireland. However none of them have represented
a settlement of the historic ‘Irish question’, merely an attempt to
As an alternative ÉIRE NUA offers a framework
within which all sections of the Irish people can make the important
decisions for their communities, their regions and their nation. To
the unionists and others in Stormont who complained last month about
the prospect of the British government reneging on the commitment to
provide £18 billion funding over the next decade (not the first time
a British government has reneged on a pledge) we place ÉIRE NUA
Decisions affecting the people of a nine-county
Ulster are being made by the people of Ulster within a free and
Federal Ireland, not dependent on the whim of a foreign parliament
or government. Sammy Wilson’s plaintive call “[We] have to simply
accept what has been handed down to us,” in reference to the British
budgets cuts sums up the impotence of the Stormont Assembly. Surely
the path charted in ÉIRE NUA is one that will lead to a new dawn of
democracy for all of the Irish people.
A delegation from the National Irish Freedom
Committee’s (NIFC) ÉIRE NUA/Visa Denial Repeal Campaign (VDRC)
initiated campaign action on April 20, 2010 with a visit to
Washington DC. The NIFC delegation highlighted the continued British
occupation and the sectarian nature of the Six-County state while
also presenting the Irish federal peace proposals as a viable
alternative to this failed British arrangement.
On Easter Sunday (April 4) the Republican
prisoners in Maghaberry took direct action against the attempts of
the British government and its colonial regime at Stormont to
criminalise Ireland’s struggle for freedom. For two days they held
the canteen at Maghaberry prison in a defiant stand, which gave the
lie to those who claim there are no political prisoners in Ireland.
In a statement the POWs set out the conditions
which necessitated their protest: “Over the past number of years, we
the Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry have experienced a continual
decline in conditions and a steady increase in oppressive tactics
being adopted against ourselves, our families and visitors.”
The statement continued: “In recent times
continuous lockdowns and loss of recreation are becoming more and
more common. Searches have also been conducted on our families by
the RUC. These lockdowns result in us being locked down in our cells
for days at a time with no food, hot water and exercise, showers or
contact with our families.
“We, the POWs, have also witnessed the attitude
of the screws becoming more aggressive with up to five assaults
being carried out on Republican prisoners in the last 18 months, all
of which resulted in Republicans being charged with assault in an
attempt by a corrupt prison regime to cover up what is happening.
“The accumulative effect of these grievances and
a lack of any other form of redress, lead us to concede the only way
to stop these assaults and degrading treatment is protest.”
The Republican prisoners have also been punished
for wearing Easter Lilies – to commemorate the 1916 Rising and all
those who have died for Irish freedom- while the British poppy is
freely worn and sold in the prison each year.
The Republican prisoners endured 23-hour
lockdown, denial of access to adequate medical care, nourishing
food, running water etc. The sanitary conditions within the wing
were in clear breach of the most basic human rights.
The five demands of the POWs were:
• Right to free association
• End to controlled movement
• Right to full-time education
• Adequate medical facilities
• An end to strip searching.
The regime at Maghaberry was intended to
criminalise the POWs and their families.
Their actions resounded throughout Republican
Ireland and over the following four months, protests and pickets
were organised all over Ireland and internationally.
Republican activists took to the streets to
breakdown the wall of silence, which Stormont, Leinster House and
Westminster attempted to erect around Maghaberry.
On April 24 the President of Republican Sinn
Féin visited Maghaberry and met with the OC of the Republican
prisoners. To coincide with the visit a protest and rally was held
outside the prison. On June 27 another visit by Des Dalton took
place this time accompanied by our Patron Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. During
the visit the OC said that the spirit and morale of the men was
strong and they were determined to continue until their right to
political status had been secured. Meeting such men is both humbling
Despite assurances given to our Ulster Office in
Belfast by the Northern Ireland Prison Service in advance of the
visit that the Duty Governor would meet both Des Dalton and Ruairí Ó
Brádaigh, the meeting did not take place.
As they left, the car in which the Patron and
President were travelling was stopped at a checkpoint — obviously
erected by the British colonial police specifically for that
purpose. The occupants of the car had their names taken and were
asked to get out of the car while it was searched.
On May 29 Republicans marched in Belfast to
highlight the POW protest. In keeping with long-held principle no
permission was sought from the British state for this march. Irish
Republicans have never sought permission from either partitionist
state to march in any part of Ireland – and never will. A similar
march was held on August 9.
The Republican prisoners in Portlaoise prison
held a 48-hour fast from April 30 to May 2 in solidarity with their
On June 11 the Six-County prisoner ombudsman
Pauline McCabe called for a review of lockdowns and strip searches
at Maghaberry Jail.
In a wide-ranging report, she made 16
recommendations. Amongst these were:
• A review of the separated prisoner regime
should be included in the overall prison review
• An independent prison review should be carried
out into full body searches.
She also said prisoners in Roe House had
effectively served their punishments for an Easter protest and
should be released from the 23-hour lockdown.
The prison protest ended on August 12 when the
Republican prisoners secured an agreement which addressed key
demands, such as strip-searching and free association.
Among those involved in the negotiations, which
secured the agreement, were the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the
mediation group Creggan Enterprises from Derry and the Dialogue
Advisory Group, based in Amsterdam. We would also like to commend
the mediators who facilitated this settlement for the diligence,
integrity and commitment shown by them over the past number of
The agreement if fully implemented will provide
the platform for the attainment of full political status.
All those who joined in the campaign, including
the families, in support of the prisoners are to be commended while
the leadership and calm adherence to principle of the Republican
prisoners in the face of the vile and inhumane conditions in
Maghaberry must be acknowledged and saluted. In a statement
following the end of the protest Sinn Féin pointed out: “By their
actions the Republican prisoners delivered a message, which
reverberated, throughout the world that British rule in Ireland will
never be normal or acceptable.”
We salute the men in Maghaberry for their
struggle and call now for the full implementation of the agreement
secured by the Republican prisoners.
We also extend greetings to the Republican
prisoners in Portlaoise who held the line for the Republican
Movement despite attempt to isolate, intimidate and finally
Comhghairdeas leis na príosúnaigh phoblachtach!
On Tuesday, June 15 the Saville Report on the
Bloody Sunday murders by British paratroopers in Derry on January
30, 1972 was finally released, 12 years after the inquiry began.
The report found that all those shot dead or
injured on Bloody Sunday in the Bogside in January 1972 were
innocent. Critically however it absolved the British State of all
responsibility laying the blame solely on the soldiers of 1st
Parachute Regiment and their commanding officer Derek Wilford.
Republican Sinn Féin said in a statement that
this was a cop-out by the Saville Inquiry: “It fails on the crucial
question of the responsibility of the British State for the murders.
The belated acknowledgement of the innocence of those murdered and
injured on Bloody Sunday is welcome for the families of the victims
but the Inquiry fails the critical test of identifying and admitting
the responsibility of the British State for the murder of unarmed
Irish people on the streets of their own city.
“This is a cop-out and ignores the chain of
command both political and military, which pitted assault troops
such as the British Army’s parachute regiment against a peaceful
anti-internment march. In August of the previous year over three
days the same notorious British Army regiment murdered 11 people in
“The British government’s apology for the
murders of ‘Bloody Sunday’ is meaningless while it continues to
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey –who was on the
platform in Derry on the day of Bloody Sunday in 1972 -- described
the events on the day as: “Fundamental to the nature of the British
state in Ireland.”
Bloody Sunday is the true face of British rule in
Ireland and the true face of imperialism as experienced today at the
hands of the same army by the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Three times in the 20th century the forces of
British occupation have visited a ‘Bloody Sunday’ on the Irish
people. While British rule remains in Ireland the possibility of yet
another will always exist.
Both here in Ireland and abroad the dark forces
of international capital intend to use the world economic collapse
to claw back any social or political advance made by working people
over the past 100 years or more.
The global markets of which we hear so much are
imperialism in a modern guise, formulating and setting national
economic policy with no consideration of the social, political or
environmental consequences for humanity.
On September 30 the true cost of the bank bailout
was unveiled at €50 billion. On October 26 the 26-County Finance
Minister Brian Lenihan announced cuts of €15 billion in public
spending over the next four years. The social cost of bailing out
the banks, the euro and the EU will be paid by this and future
generations. The economist David McWilliams writing in the Sunday
Business Post on September 19 pointed out:
“We simply do not have enough cash to pay for the
banks and keep the welfare state going at the same time.”
In the Six Counties cuts of up to £5 billion in
services and supports for the most vulnerable are set to take place
over the next four years. Trade unions warn this will mean a loss of
40 to 50,000 jobs. The Provisionals may speak out of both sides of
their mouths but the reality is that they will implement whatever
budget is handed down to them by the British government at
Westminster and agreed by the DUP in Stormont.
The lies told by those who forced the Lisbon
Treaty on the people of the 26 Counties in the second referendum are
coming home to roost now. The supposedly sacrosanct Treaty will now
be amended to suit the agenda of the two big states of France and
Germany. The rights of individual nations and with them of the
individual citizen are subservient to the needs of the EU super
state. The very definition of a free nation is one which controls
its resources and decides its relationship with the rest of the
world. A sovereign nation frames and implements policy based on the
needs and welfare of its citizens.
The truth of the arguments of those who called
for a NO vote in both Lisbon referenda was borne out by the comments
in February of this year by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
when she said that the Lisbon Treaty provided a platform for deeper
ties between the EU and NATO. She said the EU’s energy policy in
particular would benefit from closer coordination with NATO when she
spoke at the French military academy in Paris on January 29.
This was followed up in February by German
foreign minister Guido Westerwelle called for the EU to proceed with
plans for a European army under the Lisbon Treaty. As Republican
Sinn Féin argued in both referenda held in the 26 Counties in 2008
and 2009 the purpose of the Lisbon Treaty was to bring the EU
project to its logical next step in the construction of an
undemocratic and militarised superstate.
Hillary Clinton’s comments regarding “energy
security” were significant. It would appear the ground is being
prepared for NATO to act as the military arm of the EU in order to
fight the resource wars -- forecast by the then President of the EU
Commission Jacques Delors in 1992 -- over what have been identified
as the key resources of water, food and energy.
The Political Editor of the Sunday Business Post
(October 24) Pat Leahy sets out the reality of the EU in the present
context: “Any four-year economic plan contains a fair degree of
guesswork and supposition. Brussels knows this, of course, and it
also knows the danger that too much austerity will dangerously
deflate the economy. But, and this is a vital point to grasp, the
European priority is Europe, not Ireland.” In other words the effect
of the slash and burn economics on this and future generations of
Irish people is of no consequence when set against the survival of
the euro. Of course the media cheerleaders of Lisbon remain silent
on this “new” reality, which is only now hitting home.
A new generation of “wild geese” will be forced
to emigrate – emigration, historically the safety valve of the
establishment has increased by 33% year-on-year with 100,000 people
being forecast to emigrate by 2012 – while the elite who profited
most from the so-called Celtic Tiger economy are cosseted from the
effects of its collapse.
Tomas Ó Curráoin, Republican Sinn Féin member of
Galway County Council, speaking about the new wave of emigration
said on February 17: “People may recall the father of the current
finance minister, Brian Lenihan snr, tell us ‘We can’t all live on a
small island.’ If this state cannot support the people living in the
State then perhaps it is the State and not the citizens that is the
problem and perhaps it is now time to change the political
infrastructure of this island to one that benefits all of the
inhabitants of the island.
“The current political system is the continuation
of British imperialism and is certainly not the one that the men and
women of 1916 fought and died for. We in Republican Sinn Féin have
an alternative to the present system which does not include the
exportation of our youth for the benefits of other countries; these
alternatives are called ÉIRE NUA and SAOL NUA.” Maith thú, a
The commentator and broadcaster Vincent Browne
warned in the Sunday Business Post on September 26 of the kind of
politics which has been constructed: “We have built a system whereby
the sovereignty of the people is subcontracted to a political class
which, in turn, subcontracts it to a governing elite.”
Our social and economic programme SAOL NUA
Republican Sinn Féin identifies essential elements of the Democratic
Socialist system which are required in building the New Ireland;
banking and all key industries must be brought under democratic or
social control and the further development of community banking such
as Credit Unions – it should be noted with concern the comments on
October 5 of the 26-County Financial
Regulator Matthew Elderfield when he said he would be targeting
Credit Unions with the same rules used against the discredited
banking system –
Social control of capital is essential to ensure
capital serves people rather than people being the slaves of
capital. By doing so you ensure balanced development and equitable
distribution of wealth.
As is says in SAOL NUA: “Money must be regarded,
not as a commodity, but as an accounting system in which all
Taxes should be progressive and redistributive,
levied on wealth, legacies, waste and pollution. They should
encourage the fair distribution and conservation of scarce resources
especially energy. A comprehensive National Health Service and an
education system which overturns the ‘Murder Machine’ which Pearse
wrote about almost 90 years ago and is still largely with us today
We must have new indicators of what constitutes
economic success to replace the discredited indices of GNP and GDP.
They merely record economic activity in terms of transaction and
movement of money, commodities etc. They take no account of the
voluntary sector, those who work in the home etc all of whom make a
valuable contribution to the local and domestic economy. ‘Quality of
Life’ is a far more valid index of human development and progress.
Recording adult and infant mortality, literacy, access to health
services, nutrition etc.
The UN Human Development Report mission statement is
clear on what distinguishes meaningful human development: “The goal
is human freedom. And in pursuing capabilities and realising rights,
this freedom is vital. People must be free to exercise their choices
and to participate in decision-making that affects their lives.”
Off course in any economy natural resources are
vital and public ownership essential for the common good. We salute
the continued resistance of people such as Maura Harrington and Pat
‘The Chief’ O’Donnell and the Shell-to-Sea group who have
been steadfast in their opposition to Shell’s destruction of their
community and the bleeding dry of Ireland’s much-needed natural
resources, aided and abetted by the Dublin Administration.
They have not bowed to the bullyboy tactics of
Shell and the 26-County police. Frontline a human rights report on
the Corrib gas dispute published in May is a damning indictment of
human rights abuses that have been suffered by those activists and a
damning indictment of Shell, the 26-County police and the 26-County
Dept of Energy. there is €420 billion worth
of natural gas of the coast of Ireland - all of which has been given
for free to Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, Exxon Mobil while the Dublin
administration are threatening the Irish people with the IMF.
We salute the people of Erris, Mayo and all of
those who oppose the blatant capitalist theft of resources, which
rightfully belong to the Irish people.
As our paper SAOIRSE declared in October: “No
less than breaking the visible political and military chains of
imperialism our struggle must be about breaking its economic chains
Le bliain anuas foilsíodh
dréacht de phlean fiche bliain chun seasamh na Gaeilge a dhéanamh
níos láidre. Cé go bhfuil roinnt gníomhaíochtaí a d’fhéadfadh a
bheith ionmholta sa dréacht-straitéis, measaimid nach bhfuil aon
téagar ann chun aghaidh a thabhairt ar an dá áit go bhfuil meath ag
tarlúint go leanúnach, is é sin an titim i líon na gcainteoirí
dúchais sa Ghaeltacht agus an laghdú i gcumas pháistí i nGailge sna
The 20-year plan to aid the Irish language
proposed by the Dublin Administration is seriously flawed in that
the strategy is based on the discredited vague aim of bilingualism
that was brought in to replace the long held national aim of the
restoration of Irish to its rightful place as the primary language
of the nation. In the immediate term, the plan does not adequately
address the needs of the young native speaker in our Gaeltacht
These young native speakers are under severe
pressure from English from all sides. Young parents in the Gaeltacht
need all our support in being able to raise their children in an
all-Irish atmosphere. As we proposed in Éire Nua nearly 40 years
ago, our Gaeltacht people deserve the right to make the local
decisions they need to make, especially now that their very
existence is threatened.
While we support the Gaelscoileanna, the
continuing downgrading of Irish in English-medium schools has to be
resisted. It is the right of every Irish pupil, in all schools, to
instruction of the highest quality in our native language, all the
way, up to and including the Leaving Certificate Exam.
The struggle for a free Ireland cannot be
separated from the international struggle against imperialism. Irish
Republicans have consistently stretched out the hand of solidarity
with peoples engaged in the work of national liberation just as we
have welcomed the extension of similar solidarity to us. We take
this opportunity to do so again and in particular to the people of
Palestine and Gaza. The state of Israel has waged a war on an entire
people whilst denying them access to adequate supplies of fresh
water or medicines.
On May 31 this year Israeli forces attacked the
‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which had been
organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for
Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief in which nine
activists were murdered in defiance of international law. We applaud
the courage of these activists and the Irish activist on the MV
Rachel Corrie for their courage in breaking this illegal blockade on
the people of Gaza.
The work of our
International Relations Bureau is critical in ensuring that the
political situation in Ireland from a Republican perspective is
explained on the world stage while also developing that network of
solidarity, which is essential to all anti-imperialists.
In December last our Ard Runaí Josephine Hayden
addressed an international conference on the issue of political
prisoners in London while this year Fergal Moore will be attending a
similar conference in Vienna. In February the International
Relations Bureau launched an updated website.
During the year we experienced some
difficulties, which had their roots in the elections at our
Ard-Fheis of 2004. One of our Vice-Presidents from Limerick, who
had held the position for 14 years, lost by a small margin. He did
not stand for election to An Ard-Chomhairle and later refused an
offer of co-option to that body. Early in the New Year the entire
Cumann in Limerick city resigned.
They remained outside the organisation for a
year and a half when they all applied individually to the Ard
Chomhairle for re-admission. They were visited by national officers
and undertook never to quit the organisation in future or to refuse
to sell our paper SAOIRSE.
At successive Ard-Fheiseanna from 2006 to 2009
resolutions they supported in favour of a Broad Front, the naming of
Cumann after people who were members of a semi-constitutional
organisation and the setting up of a Cumann in Portlaoise Prison –
were all defeated openly on a show of hands.
At the 2009 Ard-Fheis also the Vice President
from 1990 to 2004 was a candidate for the position of President and
Vice-President. The result in the election of President was 32% to
68% against him. He also failed in the contest for Vice-President
but was elected to An Ard Chomhairle.
Some months later, on April 30, a statement
appeared on a new Limerick website entitled limerickrepublicans.com.
It said: “Limerick Republicans formerly aligned to RSF have taken a
decision after consulting with the membership over several months to
dissolve the existing organisation in the city.” It was a repeat of
the 2005 resignations.
A further statement from the same source said
they had formed a new grouping called “LIRO-Limerick Independent
Then we received information from several
sources that they had applied to the 32-County Sovereignty Movement
with a proposal to form a merger with them. This was refused.
Then they altered their course and changed their
name to “RSF – Real Sinn Féin”. In a newspaper interview, a
spokesperson demanded that we hand over our offices in Dublin and
Belfast and control of our monthly paper SAOIRSE to them. These
demands were angrily rejected by us immediately.
By October they had changed their name again,
this time they stole our honoured title Republican Sinn Féin. The
name they threw away in April they now embraced six months later.
Now they claimed to be the Republican Movement of history and said
we consisted of only a small number of individuals.
Well, let this Ard-Fheis be an answer to them.
We have not changed our name several times over six months. We
remain what we were for more than a century, through 1916 and the
First (all-Ireland) Dáil of 1919-1922 – the historic Republican
Movement and we yield to no one in that regard.
We have endured the insults and slights leaked to
the tabloid press covertly for the first half of the past year and
the open fabrications and untruths of the second half. We will go
forward to rebuild our movement, strengthened in our resolve
following on a malicious experience.
Over the course of the coming decade we will
commemorate the centenary of 1916 as well
as the anniversaries of the other landmark events in Irish
Speaking in UCD on May 20 the head of the
26-County administration Brian Cowen accused Irish Republicans of
seeking to “hijack” the centenary of the 1916 Rising. It is an
accusation that does not stand up; Republicans cannot hijack
something they have never abandoned.
Each year Irish Republicans both in Ireland and
abroad have commemorated 1916 without fail. The 26-County state on
the other hand has alternated between ignoring the anniversary and
banning commemoration of it. 1916 commemorations throughout the 26
Counties were banned by the Dublin administration in 1937.
In 1976 Republicans were prosecuted – including
Fiona Plunkett sister of Joseph Mary Plunkett - and some jailed for
their participation in a banned commemoration at the GPO. Each year
Republicans face the prospect of prosecution for distributing Easter
For forty years the 26-County administration
ignored the anniversary of 1916 but since 2006 it has
opportunistically seized on it in order to sell the big lie that
history has come to an end and British rule in Ireland is now
accepted. 1916 remains unfinished business while Britain holds any
part of Ireland.
The message of 1916 could not be clearer;
“Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”
The coming year is likely to see a visit to the
26-County state by the Queen of England. On June 23 our
Vice-President Fergal Moore put our position on the public record
once again: “British rule in Ireland can never be normal nor will
Ireland be pacified while partition and British rule remain.
Republican Sinn Féin will vigorously oppose any visit to Ireland by
the Queen of England and calls on all Republicans to do likewise
Irish Republicans will actively oppose such a
visit and by doing so send a clear message to the world that British
occupation and partition is neither normal nor acceptable. The visit
by the head of the British state – who holds the style and title of
‘Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” – to any part of
Ireland will be resisted by Republican minded people throughout
We will also be giving serious consideration to
contesting the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections next year. Off course
the imposition of a political test oath in the Six-County local
elections will mean that people will be robbed of the opportunity to
vote for candidates standing on a platform of unequivocal Irish
We turn from the old year and look to the coming
year as one, which presents us with many challenges. However as a
unified and principled Republican organisation we are more than
capable of meeting those challenges and in doing so into
opportunities for growth. Armed with the title deeds of Irish
Republicanism and taking our stand on the rock of the All-Ireland
Republic from which flows the political, social and economic freedom
of Ireland our steps must be ever onward!
Go raibh mile maith agaibh ar fad. Beannacht
dílis Dé oraibh go léir.
Victory to the Irish people.
An Phoblacht Abú.