Speaking at an Easter Rising commemoration in Bandon, west Cork, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said the 26-County State has failed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Mr Adams appealed to those who had refused to pay the household charge to vote ‘No’ in the May referendum on the EU fiscal austerity treaty, which he described as an affront to the Proclamation and those who fought in 1916.
He said it was clear the austerity policies of the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition were proving as unsuccessful as those of the previous Fianna Fáil-led administration, with disastrous consequences for workers and their families.
“That is one good reason for opposing the austerity treaty in the May referendum,” he said. “This treaty would entrench austerity policies in the Constitution. That is not the vision of 1916. It is the complete opposite of the Proclamation.”
Government ministers, particularly Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, are facing protests and hecklers over the introduction of the household charge at functions around the country. Ten thousand people gathered outside the Fine Gael annual conference earlier this month, while a large protest is also expected outside the Labour conference in Galway this weekend.
Fuelling public anger is the government’s recent decision to approve a new payment of 1.5 billion euro to unsecured bondholders in Ireland’s nationalised Allied Irish Bank (AIB). The payout this week was just the latest to anonymous banks and capital funds who invested in Ireland’s collapsed banking system. Although the government was under no legal requirement to pay the debt, the payments have been insisted on by the European Central Bank. To date the AIB has cost the state 20.7bn euro.
Meanwhile, a report has indicated that 700,000 people, including 200,000 children, are living in poverty in Ireland, an increase of almost a hundred thousand in just two years.
Mr Adams accused the Fine Gael-led Government, backed by Fianna Fáil, of seeking to hand over sovereignty and democratic rights in Ireland to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels, Strasbourg and Frankfurt.
“Fine Gael and Labour, backed by Fianna Fáil, want to hand our future over to them! That’s not in the interests of the Irish people,” he said. “The Austerity Treaty must be opposed.”
Mr Adams appealed appeal to the 50 per cent of citizens who refused to pay the household charge, and “the many others who were coerced and bullied into paying it”, to make a stand against the Government’s austerity policies by voting ‘No’ in the referendum.
He said the austerity policies pursued by Fine Gael and Labour were resulting in stealth tax after stealth tax being imposed on citizens who are paying for the greed of bankers and the bad policies of the former Fianna Fáil-Green government.
The universal social charge introduced by Fianna Fáil and pursued by this Government, together with the household charge, water charges, septic tank charges and VAT sales tax increases, along with cutting public services and wage cuts, had brought the domestic economy to its knees.
“The domestic economy is on the floor. People are worried about paying their bills, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads,” Mr Adams said.
“And all this while Labour is in government! What value Labour if it cannot protect citizen’s rights?
“Employees at Vita Cortex in Cork, in Game shops around the state and at Lagan Brick in Cavan have been forced to hold sit-ins in an effort to get the money owed to them.
“The resolve of all of these workers, particularly at Vita Cortex, is to be commended and applauded.”