[Sinn Fein]

24th November 1999

Adams launches Sinn Fein pre-budget submission

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the launch of the party's pre-budget submission said:

If the Celtic Tiger is to be more than a symbol the government must spread its benefits across the lines of economic division which have riven our society for so long.

For Sinn Fein the all Ireland dimension is crucial not just in the case of all Ireland bodies and cross border institutions but also in the commitment given by both the London and Dublin Governments in the Good Friday Agreement to ``the principles of partnership, equality and mutual respect to the protection of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights''. The Good Friday Agreement is not just about the north. It is about the south as well.

When republicans look at the 26 Counties we see a society where many of these rights are being transgressed. This is a wealthy society but this wealth is not being shared either equally or fairly.

Sinn Fein's submission to the Minister of Finance points the way to correct this. Our pre-budget 2000 economic statement is about spreading the wealth.

There is no real partnership between the communities we live in - the business sector, the trade union movement and the farming organisations.

Wherever you look, whether it be thepeople on hospital waiting lists, the 38,000 people on local authority housing waiting lists, the homeless, the decline of the rural economy, the neglect of the Irish language, the drugs crisis in the cities, the school children without books or proper facilities, or the refugees treated like criminals, you see a society that systematically excludes people rather than includes them.

The core theme of Irish republicanism, from Tone, through to Davis, Pearse and Connolly to the present day is a commitment to the creation of the economic and social conditions where the Irish people are truly free. Many people dismiss this as an abstract ideal. They are wrong. We believe these are fundamental rights and achievable rights.

In 1999, this republican ideal means a commitment to building a society and an economy where everyone has the right to a meaningful job, with a wage that allows them and their families to have a dignified standard of living. It means a society where everyone has proper housing, in properly planned communities with schools, health services, leisure facilities and shops. It means a health service that is not riven by tiers - one more and more exclusive than the next - selling services only to those who can afford to pay but a health service that guarantees quality treatment quickly to all.

The same criteria should apply for education, public transport and so on.

There has been an endless amount of comment about the new millennium and what it means. However, no matter what your perspective is, there is no doubt that it is a milestone in human history. What better objective could there be for a new century than the aim of delivering social justice for the Irish people?

This is what Sinn Fein will be campaigning, lobbying and working for in the 21st century.

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