[Sinn Fein]

26 June 1997

Our vision is of a new Ireland

Opening speech by Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caoláin in Leinster House

Glacaim an suíochán sa chomhdháil seo inniu go bródúil mar theachta ó mhuintir an Chabháin agus Mhuineacháin agus is ar a son agus ar son mo pháirtí Sinn Fein atáim anseo mar ionadaí. Is stairiúil an lá é dár bpáirtí. Is stairiúil freisin an ócáid í don chomhdháil seo.

Is páirtí poblachtach é Sinn Fein agus i bhfocail Fhorógra na Poblachta 1916 ``dearbhaimíd gur ceart ceannasach do-chlóite ceart mhuintir na hEireann chun tír na hEireann, agus fós chun dála na hEireann a stiúradh gan chosc gan toirmeasc''. Níl an cheannasacht iomlán fós ag muintir na hEireann agus is é bunchospóir mo pháirtí an Phoblacht uile-Eireannach a chur ar bun.

Tagaim anseo mar ionadaí ó cheantar atá imeallach le fada an lá mar gheall ar críchdheighilt ár dtíre agus mar gheall ar neamhaird ag rialtas i ndiaidh rialtais sa stát seo. Mar theachta beidh sé mar bhun-aidhm agam deireadh a chur leis an neamhaird sin agus mo cheantar a chur ar ais i lár pholaitíocht na tíre seo.

I am honoured to stand here today as a deputy for the people of Cavan and Monaghan and as a representative of Sinn Fein, the party of which I am proud to be a member. I represent an all-Ireland party that enjoys a significant mandate in both parts of our divided island, and I welcome the presence here today of my colleagues Gerry Adams MP for West Belfast and Martin McGuinness MP for Mid-Ulster. I look forward to the day when I will join them and all the others elected by the Irish people as a whole in a national parliament for the 32 Counties.

In the recent election voters were offered a choice between two sets of coalition partners with virtually identical social and economic policies. From the composition of the House today it is obvious that the electorate resented being forced to make such a choice. This reality is reflected in the growing strength of the smaller parties and independents.

In the general election Sinn Fein stood as a party for change. Our vision is of a new Ireland, a people united in shared prosperity. We note the failure of successive administrations in this state to fulfil the aim of the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil Eireann which declared ``the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the Nation's labour''. This ongoing failure is evident in every town and village in Ireland and can be seen in high level of long-term unemployment, rural decline and a growing drugs crisis. Promoting the interests of my constituents in Cavan and Monaghan, and advancing the case for a fairer social and economic order based on equality - these will be my priorities during the course of the term before us.

The partition of our country and Britain's occupation of the six north eastern counties is the single greatest problem facing us as a people today. The most important task for us all is to rebuild the peace process. This must include the full recognition of Sinn Fein's electoral mandate by both governments. The way to lasting peace is through inclusive negotiations leading to political and constitutional change. The intense and positive engagement of the new government and of all the representatives in this House will be needed to bring that historic change about.

On the vote for Taoiseach therefore Sinn Fein's priority is the rebuilding of the peace process. Accordingly I will be casting my vote for Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach. I am doing so solely on the basis of his and his party's positive disposition towards a genuine and inclusive process.

I look forward to working with the new government and with others in this House in the achievement of a lasting peace with justice for all the people of Ireland.

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