14th May 2000
Adams slams Corruption and Racism on Cork visit
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking this morning in Cork to a meeting of party activists, slammed `the corrupt nature of politics in the 26 counties. He also warned against the growth of racism and called for a:
- comprehensive policy on immigration and asylum seekers
- the full implementation of the Refugee Act
- full and proper consultation with local communities
- the provision of adequate resources and support
The Sinn Fein President will be the guest speaker later today at the unveiling in Cork of a monument to Thomas Kent, a Cork man executed by the British in 1916. Speaking this morning Mr. Adams said:
``Sinn Fein is committed to the transformation of Irish society. Our vision of a new Ireland is firmly rooted in the 1916 Proclamation, which espoused equality, justice, human rights, national self-determination and a desire that we should `cherish all of the children of the nation equally'.
``Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are striving to secure the united and independent Ireland proclaimed in 1916 and which is essential if the Irish people are to secure our full potential as a nation. Our goal of a United Ireland is not aspirational. It is real. It is achievable. And we have a strategy and policies to advance that goal.
What would the men and women of 1916 think of political life on the island of Ireland today?
I am sure that they would be proud that we are continuing to work for Irish unity and independence. I am sure that they would be happy that the economy is going well. But I am equally sure that they would be outraged by the poverty, inequality, disadvantage and political corruption that exist.
There is wealth in this state - but alongside it sit communities suffering from a shortage of housing, youth facilities, drug treatment programmes and adult education and after-school programmes. And there is a serious crisis in the health service.
We have also seen the many abuses of the planning processes. The almost daily revelations at the Flood Tribunal prove what we have been saying for years. That is that politics in this state have been subverted by a cosy cartel - a golden circle - of establishment parties and big business.
No one believes that this corruption is restricted to Dublin City or to one political party. There are good and honourable people involved in politics and in business but the nature of politics and the system which is monopolised here by conservative parties has meant that the old elite which ruled when the British were here has been replaced by another elite. A native one with the same arrogance and disregard for ordinary citizens. This has to be changed.
In the the first year of a new millennium republicans have an absolute responsibility to tackle all of these issues and challenge for political leadership on them. Sinn Fein's vision of a new Ireland is one where all the nation's citizens are cherished equally and have equal rights and entitlements.
In recent weeks much attention has been paid to the governments handling of the issue of refugees and asylum seekers and the response of communities both urban and rural to this matter. We have seen the outworking of a government policy, which at best is a `fire brigade' response and at worse is one based on intolerance and bigotry.
Not only has the government failed to address the needs and rights of refugees and asylum seekers, it has also ignored the needs and rights of urban and rural communities.
Communities have a right to be consulted. Communities have a right to expect adequate resources and supports. But communities also have obligations and responsibilities as human beings.
In all of this debate some of us seem to have forgotten our own history. In years gone by we suffered racist abuse in our own country from colonial occupiers and we were subjected to racial discrimination in other lands. It is not so long ago that signs saying ``No Irish - No Blacks'' were displayed on boarding-house windows in England. It is not so long ago that thousands of young Irish people departed our shores for the US to work illegally.
But it is important to point out that racism does not grow by accident. Everywhere it has taken hold it is because unscrupulous people in politics and other spheres of society have nurtured it for their own cynical interests.
It is up to political leaders to make clear that they not play party politics with the race issue and furthermore that they will not tolerate racism in any form in their party.
- We need a comprehensive policy on the two related issues of immigration and asylum.
- We need new legislation based on a fair and just immigration system which will allow people, in numbers which can be agreed, to come to this State to work.
- We need the full implementation of the Refugee Act.
- We need to see the government work in consultation with local communities and ensure that proper back up services and support are provided.
Building Political Strength
This meeting has to discuss how best to build on the success of last years local elections and of the obvious potential that exists across this island for Sinn Fein. It is clear that republicanism is stronger now than ever before but we still have a lot of work to do. The struggle for unity and independence is not over.
We have witnessed an ongoing rise in our political strength. More and more people, especially young people, are coming to support our analysis not just in relation to the peace process but in relation to the republican and labour policies that we espouse. We want a chance to implement our policies on social reform and economic democracy, as well as women's rights, cultural development, children's rights, environmental protection, civil liberties, sovereignty and unity. But none of this will happen unless we increase our political strength.
Sinn Fein is a 32-County party. The only all-Ireland party and now the fastest growing political party in Ireland. What was achieved here in Cork, and elsewhere in the 26 Counties, contributes to the overall struggle for freedom and justice. This new millennium brings with it many opportunities and hopes for the future but it also brings many great challenges. We have to meet those challenges. All of us working together have the ability to transform Ireland into a country that is truly independent, just, united and free.
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