[Sinn Fein]

15th December 1998

Sinn Fein poised to make major gains

Text of remarks made by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP at the launch of the party's quarterly newspaper, Dublin News.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur romhaibh ag an preas ócáid seo. Cuireann sé an áthas orm an nuachtan nua a sheoladh agus a chur os chomhair pobal na cathrach. Is céim mor ar aghaidh é do Shinn Fein i mBaile Átha Cliath.

Today marks an important stage in the development of Sinn Fein. We are making a determined drive in the months ahead to bring our radical republican labour politics to more people in our capital city than every before. The most vital area of growth for Sinn Fein is Dublin and I commend Sinn Fein Atha Cliath for this initiative. This quarterly newspaper, Dublin News, is a sure sign that we as a party have the capacity to make a major impact in this city in the time ahead.

100,000 copies of the paper will be distributed door to door by Sinn Fein members in the next two weeks. It is indicative of the strong network of local activists that we have in communities throughout this city. Our task is to translate this strength on the ground into elected representation and this we are poised to do in next June's local government elections.

For far too long Sinn Fein has been portrayed as a northern based party solely concerned with the national question and the peace process. This has never been the case. I have been coming to Dublin for many years and I am very aware of the record of hard work of Sinn Fein activists working in the community on the issues which affect the daily lives of the people of Dublin - housing, unemployment, the environment, the drugs scourge.

There is much interest surrounding what is called the merger of Democratic Left and Labour. I do not see it as a merger but as marking the demise of DL and the grafting of their leadership onto the leadership of the Labour Party.

Contrary to some of the commentary surrounding the dissolution of DL, the national question and the unfinished business of partition, are still central features of the Irish political landscape and Labour, if it tries to ignore them now, will once again repeat the mistakes of the past. Sinn Fein will not make that mistake. We stand in the James Connolly tradition which sees the national question and the social question inextricably linked.

There is speculation that the ending of DL opens up space on the left for Sinn Fein and others. Our ambition is bigger than that. Simply occupying a niche to the left of Labour is not enough for the communities we represent. We seek radical and fundamental change in this city and in this country. We seek a more democratic future where communities have real power to improve their lives.

Why is it for example that with the biggest budget surplus in this history of the State we have massive hospital waiting lists, a housing crisis and rising levels of homelessness ? The reason is the legacy of years of neglect and mismanagement by successive governments and successive administrations in the local authorities. The distance between ordinary citizens and the politics of local government is massive and we as a party aim to bridge that gulf by campaigning for increased powers for local government and real community participation. We believe that our representatives, firmly based as they are in the community, are best placed to achieve that fundamental change.

Our vision as a party is to transform politics on this island. This means both the achievement of Irish unity and independence and the replacement of the old conservative politics, which have dominated both states with a new political dispensation, based on social and economic justice.Once again I commend Dublin Sinn Fein on this initiative and I look forward to major gains for our party in this city and throughout Ireland on the eve of a new millenium.

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