Irish Republican News · April 29, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Sinn Fein launches election manifesto
Sinn Fein launches election manifesto
2010manifesto.jpg

Sinn Fein has published its manifesto for next week’s British general election based on the linked policy objectives of peace, equality, jobs and Irish unity.

The manifesto’s main points were: combined opposition, with other parties, to British public spending cuts in the North of Ireland; push the British government to become “persuaders for Irish unity”; transfer fiscal and tax-raising powers to Belfast from London; remove MI5 and the Serious Organised Crime Agency and ban plastic bullets; all-island planning on agriculture, infrastructure and transport; harmonise the education systems in the North and the South and continue reforms in the North; demand an Irish-language Act and range of supports for renewal of the language; and establish an international truth-recovery process independent of the British government.

In an address at the publication of the document, party president Gerry Adams emphasised the importance of political leadership.

Referring to the Hillsborough negotiations in February on the devolution of policing and justice powers, Mr Adams said: “This was a hugely important moment.”

He said: “Sinn Fein did this by making the two governments and the DUP face up to their political responsibilities. As a result, policing and justice were transferred in April.”

The manifesto “for the future” outlines 87 aims and commitments listed under 11 headings ranging from health, education, regional development and agriculture to international affairs, equality and Irish unity.

The manifesto addresses many policies on an all-Ireland basis, calling for greater investment in road and rail, with a focus on the underdeveloped area west of the River Bann.

The party will press for a new White Paper on agriculture, invest the equivalent of 400 million pounds in rural communities and fishing and insist on all-island planning.

Mr Adams said the two education systems in Ireland should be harmonised. He also called for specific programmes to address mental health issues, perinatal needs, obesity and suicide.

On criminal justice, Mr Adams said Sinn Fein was setting the agenda on policing and would work to enhance the equality, transparency and quality of the criminal justice system.

Plastic bullets should be banned, the British agencies MI5 and the Serious Organised Crime Agency should leave the North, and the Public Prosecution Service should be reformed, the manifesto says.

It also calls for an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and the holding of all investigations under the PSNI rather than British agencies.

Mr Adams called for “an independent, international, comprehensive truth-recovery process” to examine the history of the conflict.

The manifesto has a significant section on the need for an Irish-language Act and a range of supports throughout Ireland for the renewal of the language.

The party president said Sinn Fein would continue to offer assistance to those involved in other peace processes throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East and the Basque country.

Mr Adams demanded a Bill of rights for the North and an all-Ireland charter of rights as referred to in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The manifesto outlines a series of legislative proposals to clamp down on discrimination.

Under the banner “Ireland cannot afford partition”, 22 are listed proposals under the headings of a stronger economy, a better quality of life and Irish unity. Mr Adams said the British government should amend its policy from one of upholding the union to one of becoming a “persuader for Irish unity”.

In answer to a question about Sinn Fein’s policy of abstention at Westminster, Mr Adams said there was a lessening of “connectiveness” between the Northern electorate and the House of Commons. “Whoever is there doesn’t govern in our interests, that’s a fact,” he said.

“We need to build up a united front which will face the next British government particularly on this issue of [public spending] cuts. We need to be opposing that in a thoughtful and strategic way, and in a united way.”

DERRY WALL DISPUTE

A dispute has broken out in Derry over the use of one of the city’s famous landmarks for electioneering.

Supporters of socialist candidate Eamonn McCann erected election posters at the Free Derry wall in the Bogside area of the city.

Sinn Fein claims the posters were put up in breach of protocol and that members of its party had pre-booked the wall for their election posters.

Mr McCann said he was unaware of a formal booking procedure and said his election workers put up his posters following an agreement with a local committee responsible for approving usage of the wall.

“The wall is a community facility. It is not Sinn Fein’s wall. It is not their area. They have claimed more public space than any other party and now they want to claim this wall as their own as well,” Mr McCann said.

However Sinn Fein’s director of elections in the Foyle constituency Andrew McCartney said his party had already pre-booked the wall.

“We made the booking well in advance with the committee in adherence to the standard protocol,” he said.

Committee member Tony Doherty, who is a member of Sinn Fein, said he had brokered talks between the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute. “There is a long-standing protocol and I hope everyone adheres to it,” he said.

© 2010 Irish Republican News