Martin McGuinness on why you should vote for Sinn Féin candidates in this week’s Westminster general election.
In just over a week’s time people have an opportunity to change politics in the north.
The choice is clear; they can vote to continue with the failed policies of the Tory-led administration at Westminster and their supporters within unionism, or they can choose the progressive politics of Sinn Fein.
We have made a clear commitment to voters ahead of this election. Sinn Fein will continue to resist the disastrous agenda of Tory austerity in Ireland. Austerity has become the price of the union.
It is now becoming increasingly clear that the next British government, regardless of its party political make-up, will continue to impose austerity on our society. It will continue to take decisions based on the interests of the people of England, and not of citizens here.
Sinn Fein has made defending the most vulnerable, the protection of public services and the delivery of a new and better future key priorities at this election.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, Sinn Fein will seek an immediate negotiation with the incoming British government to secure a workable budget, including the reinstatement of #1.5 billion to the block grant, to support job creation and the delivery of strong public services.
We also want to see the return of economic powers to the hands of locally elected representatives.
This includes full control over income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, capital gains tax, borrowing powers and the setting of the minimum wage.
Sinn Fein also believes in a fair economy for all. That is why we will prioritise job creation, both in terms of attracting inward investment and supporting small and medium sized enterprises. We will ensure greater security of employment for workers by ending zero-hour contracts.
We will also encourage people to find employment through the provision of quality affordable childcare. Alongside opposing austerity, our commitment to equality means standing up to sectarianism, homophobia and racism.
We are committed to increasing the number of women in politics and public life. Three out of four of our MEPs are women as are three out of five of our executive ministers and 50 per cent of our ruling executive, the Ard Chomhairle. Sinn Fein is calling for the powers to bring forward legislation to introduce gender quotas for candidates.
Sinn Fein remains focused on promoting reconciliation and delivering a process for truth, justice and dealing with the past.
In the aftermath of the election, we could be faced with a referendum on membership of the European Union. It is clear that the north has benefited greatly from being in Europe.
If the incoming British government does press ahead with plans for an in-out referendum, the north must have its own separate and binding vote.
As part of our commitment to uniting communities and uniting Ireland we will also continue to campaign for a border poll on Irish unity.
So on May 7 the voters of the north have a clear choice between equality and austerity.
Sinn Fein is the only party in the north in this election, which is both firmly opposed to austerity and has a proven track record in negotiations. Sinn Fein has the team and the determination to stand up for our communities and to stand up to the Tories.