Game on as parties set out election stalls
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has appealed for an alliance of left wing parties and candidates as the 26-County parties brace for a general election which could bring dramatic change to Ireland’s political landscape.
He quoted socialist and trade unionist James Connolly who called for a unity of the left, many decades ago. “That’s as relevant today as it was then,” Mr Adams said.
Speaking at the James Connolly Memorial near Liberty Hall in Dublin, he said it makes sense for politicians with an alternative vision to have maximum unity.
He said the issue is about the future of the country and people must think beyond party interest.
Asked whether he thought Labour would listen to his appeal, he said the issue was bigger than both Sinn Fein and the Labour Party.
Responding today [Wednesday] to comments by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore that the election is a three-way contest, Mr Adams said the comments had a “certain arrogance” to them.
He also hit out at what he said was the Labour vision at leadership level which is “a Fine Gael government with Labour in it.”
Mr Adams said Fine Gael and Fianna Fail were natural bedfellows and criticised Labour by saying, “It doesn’t make sense to me how any party which is progressive could have a vision which is as narrow and as stunted as that which is about putting Fine Gael into power.”
Speaking in Dundalk this morning where he hung up a poster of himself in the town centre, Mr Adams said Sinn Fein would be open to agreeing a programme of government.
But he said Sinn Fein would not be a party to “tie ourselves on” to another party as the Green Party and Labour have done in the past.
FG vs LAB
Earlier, Labour leader Gilmore attacked Fine Gael, accusing it of “putting the door on the latch” for co-operation with Fianna Fail after the general election.
When asked to comment on indications from Fianna Fail that it would support a Fine Gael minority government after the general election, he said it was more properly a question for Fine Gael.
“It does seem to me that some of the choreography in recent days has certainly opened up the prospect that Fine Gael would allow Fianna Fail back into government through the side-door,” he told a news conference in Dublin.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s director of elections Phil Hogan said the Labour leader “would do well to remember that the last time Fianna Fail was vulnerable, it was his party that ran into government with them in 1992 despite having stood on an anti-Fianna Fail ticket during the election campaign.”
Attitudes to the EU/IMF deal, which forfeits the economic sovereignty of the 26 County state to foreign institutions until the 85 billion euro loan is repaid, have become a key focus of debate.
Labour has pointed to Fine Gael’s general support for Fianna Fail approach in relation to the EU/IMF deal, agreed by Brian Cowen late last year. However, both Labour and Fine Gael have suggested it could be renegotiated, while Sinn Fein firmly oppose it.
Mr Adams this week again reiterated his party’s opposition to the deal, saying he would tell the IMF “to go home and take their money with them”.
He also said his party, in government, would close two banks -- Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide -- and amalgamate the others, AIB and Bank of Ireland. Depositors would be protected by legislation but bondholders would be “burned” -- required to take a loss.
“We would create funding to protect those who are already in employment, particularly small, native, indigenous businesses, and, also, to create new jobs,” he added.
Mr Adams also confirmed that Sinn Fein would deal with the exchequer deficit of 19 billion euro over six years rather than four years, a policy which has now been adopted by the other opposition parties.