Sinn Féin holds conference on day of protest
Sinn Féin holds conference on day of protest

The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2009 is taking place this Friday and Saturday February 20th and 21st at the RDS in Dublin.

The theme of this year’s Ard Fheis is, “A Vision For Ireland’s Future - Aisling do thodhchai na hEireann”.

Dublin MEP and incoming Vice President Mary Lou McDonald and Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD launched the Ard Fheis programme in Dublin this week.

Speaking at the launch, Ms McDonald said the Dublin government’s solution to the recession has been to “cut and borrow” with “no serious plan” on how it intends to rebuild the Irish economy.

“We see with the recent revelations surrounding Anglo-Irish Bank that the golden circle of the 1980s never really went away, they simply regrouped in the 1990s. This government may continue to protect them, Sinn Féin will not,” she said.

“It also worth noting that it is not Dail debates or media reporting on Ireland’s flailing economy that is damaging our international reputation but the banana-republic-like leadership of Fianna Fail.

“Sinn Féin is willing to show leadership, to be honest with people. We will promote innovative proposals that can deliver jobs through an export led economy and by building first class infrastructure.

Mr Adams’s presidential address to the SF conference, due to be televised live on Saturday, will take place at the same time as a massive demonstration marches through the streets of Dublin.

The demonstration has been organised by the trade unions against the 26-County administration’s proposals for tackling the recession, and will begin at 2pm from Parnell Square.

Job losses have also continued to mount across Ireland. This week, bus workers were the first to announce plans for a general strike action over proposed cutbacks.

More than 600 workers are due to be laid off by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, despite ongoing problems with traffic jams in the capital and regional cities.

Strike action is due to begin at the end of the month, when both bus companies intend to implement the first phase of their cutback plans by terminating the employment of some 160 probationary drivers.

“Now is the time for new ideas and real change,” said McDonald.

“It is a time for new type of political leadership and a new vision for Ireland’s future. The economic challenges before us are huge but they can be over come with honest leadership and decisive action. The starting point must be stimulating the economy.

“It means putting in place measures to encourage economic growth, including economic strategies which invest in jobs, in people and in public services. This will require significant new funding.

“In the south this will mean increasing state borrowing to fund capital projects and lowering consumption taxes to boost consumer spending. In the North it means pressing the British government for greater fiscal autonomy and the ability to raise taxes and manage our economy independent of the British Treasury restraints.

“We will eradicate waste and duplication in the public service. We will turn this economy around with courageous and well thought-out ideas.

“Ireland has an opportunity not only to beat the recession but to come out the other side as a more fair and equal society. The challenge is before us, Sinn Féin is ready to grasp it.”


Meanwhile, speaking in advance of the Ard Fheis, a leading Sinn Féin activist has said the party’s insistence on discipline and loyalty must be relaxed if it is to continue to expand its support base.

Formerly the party’s director of European Affairs, Eoin O Broin, a Sinn Féin candidate in the local elections for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown council, said: “Sinn Féin has been one of the central architects of the peace process and is increasingly setting the terms of political debate in Ireland north and south. Despite this, the party remains much misunderstood and often misrepresented.

“It is the left republican tradition started by Connolly and continued by Mellows, Gilmore, O’Donnell, the Republican Congress, Clann na Poblachta and even the Workers’ Party to which we belong.

“While our history has seen many successes, it has also seen many failures. Honestly understanding our past is vital if we are to understand the limitations of our present and to achieve our objectives in the future.

“Sinn Féin’s future must be a left republican future, taking our place in the globally resurgent radical democratic left of Europe, Latin America and the wider world.”

* A former Sinn Féin employee has received 15,000 pounds in settlement of a discrimination claim against the party.

Anne ‘Dodie’ McGuinness, a former sister-in-law of Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness, was made redundant from a position based in Sinn Féin’s Westminster office in 2007.

She said she was subsequently denied the opportunity to apply for two posts, which were both filled by younger men.

The party has agreed to pay Ms McGuinness without any admission of liability.

In a statement, Ms McGuinness said she had worked for Sinn Féin for many years.

“I am happy that this matter has now been resolved and particularly pleased that, as a result of this case, the party will now work with the Equality Commission to ensure that its policies and procedures deliver the highest standards of equality of opportunity,” she said.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News