[Sinn Fein]

26 May 1997

O'Caoláin confident of increased Sinn Fein vote

Speaking at the launch of the Sinn Fein's election manifesto Sinn Fein County and Urban District Councillor Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin expressed confidence that the party's vote would increase throughout the 26 Counties and return at least one TD to Leinster House.

Councillor Ó Caoláin said:

``With just two weeks left in this election campaign Sinn Fein candidates in each of the 14 constituencies in which the party is standing have expressed confidence of an increased vote. People are offering strong support both for our commitment to rebuilding the peace process and for our effective representation at a local level.

``Sinn Fein's is standing in this election on a platform of three main issues: Peace, Job Creation and empowering communities in the fight against drugs and crime.

``Sinn Fein is committed to our peace strategy and to rebuilding a credible peace process. Our objective is for an agreement that will earn the allegiance and respect of all sections of society. The prize of peace has dividends for all of us. The creation of an all-Ireland economy, including the elimination of the economic distortions created by partition, would have an immediate impact throughout the island.

``Sinn Fein is committed to introducing measures to end extremes of social inequality and to promote social justice. This is a key area in the election particularly as figures released today from the Conference of Religious in Ireland have shown that poverty levels in Ireland have increased from 30% to 34% in the 1990's. We believe that it is a lack of political will and not a lack of funds that has prevented the government from ensuring that everyone has a decent standard of living.

``We are calling for the introduction of broad ranging measures to halt the growing economic division of our society. These include the introduction of a minimum wage, removing the low paid from the tax net and reform of the tax system to ensure that the present inequitable burden carried by PAYE workers is removed. We are also calling for current levels of social welfare to be increased as current long-term social welfare payments force families to live below subsistence level.

``Sinn Fein is committed to continuing our work in the fight against drugs and crime and stands on our work record in community politics. The scale of the drugs problem today is a direct result of the failure to introduce the measures necessary to tackle the problem. Sinn Fein has a commendable record of campaigning against drug abuse and has outlined a number of proposals including:

``There are many other proposals in our manifesto including an integrated strategy for rural development, proposals to assist our declining fishing industry, adopting a balanced approach to forestry, opposing the building of a national incinerator, measures to achieve equality of representation for women in political life and in appointments to all public bodies, supporting young peoples social welfare entitlements, the full funding of primary and secondary schools and a bill of rights ensuring equality of treatment for Gaeilgeoirí.

``It is in support of our full manifesto that we are asking the electorate to vote Sinn Fein No. 1 on June 6th.''

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