Sinn Féin's rise alarms Bruton
By MICHEÁL Mac DONNCHA
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Fine Gael leader John Bruton is ``clearly alarmed at the rise of Sinn Féin'' and is ``peddling untruths'' in order to discredit the party. The Sinn Féin TD strongly refuted John Bruton's claim in a speech in Tralee on Monday that Sinn Féin would be a ``prop'' for Fianna Fáil.
Ó Caoláin said: ``John Bruton makes the ludicrous claim that `Sinn Féin supported Fianna Fáil in the last general election'. The Dáil seat won by Sinn Féin in Cavan/Monaghan was formerly occupied by Fianna Fáil. In this and every constituency we contested in the last general and local elections, we were challenging Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour for seats, with many notable successes. It will come as news to Fianna Fáil elected representatives who lost seats to Sinn Féin that we are a `pro-Fianna Fáil party'.
``Deputy Bruton is clearly alarmed at the rise of Sinn Féin and is peddling untruths in order to discredit the party. His outburst comes just over a week after this Sinn Féin TD voted against the Fianna Fáil-led government in a confidence motion on the last day of the Dáil term. In that debate I described Fianna Fáil as a `party in the pocket of the privileged'. The only difference with Fine Gael is that they represent a slightly different section of the privileged.
``My voting record in this Dáil on a raft of issues from health and education to political corruption and Irish neutrality shows clearly my opposition and that of my party to the flawed and failed approach of Fianna Fáil. The difference between John Bruton's Fine Gael and Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil on social and economic issues is wafer thin and for Deputy Bruton to present himself and his party as a real alternative to a Fianna Fáil-led government is laughable.
``Sinn Féin is not a prop to any political party in Leinster House. We are a radical alternative to those parties that have failed to address the fundamental inequalities in Irish society. Sharing the wealth and creating real change in our country is Sinn Féin's priority.
``Deputy Bruton also criticises Sinn Féin for raising funds in the United States. In the past, Fine Gael members have called for votes to be given to Irish emigrants. They failed to deliver when in government and now, in supporting the flawed Labour Party Bill on party funding, they would also deny those emigrants the right to contribute to the party of their choice. The truth is that Deputy Bruton's party has little or no support among those of our people, and their descendants, who in the past were forced to emigrate when he and his predecessors were in office. The problem is not funding of parties by the Irish Diaspora but the bankrolling of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael by big business in Ireland in exchange for government policies which favour them. Sinn Féin is opposed to such corporate donations.
``The most natural coalition partners are the two conservative parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. As the real opposition rises in the country in the form of Sinn Féin, other smaller parties and principled independents, the two major parties will be weakened. I welcome this and look forward in the next general election to Sinn Féin reshaping the political landscape North and South.''