Sinn Féin manifesto rails against EU yes men
Party has the established parties and Europe firmly in its sights
Taking a selfie: Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald with president Gerry Adams and candidates Liadh Ní Riada, Lynn Boylan and Martina Anderson at yesterday’s launch of Sinn Féin’s manifesto in Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams argued against the “Brussels consensus” and its Irish supporters as the party published its European manifesto.
While Sinn Féin’s opponents have seized on his detention by the PSNI in connection with the Jean McConville inquiry, Adams said he did not know whether the episode would damage the party’s vote on Friday week.
But there was no retreat from his attack on the Government and the Fianna Fáil-led administration which preceded it. People still want change, said the Sinn Féin leader.
“This is the first opportunity people have had since the last election. That’s number one. Secondly, it’s the first opportunity people have had since a bit of a wobble in the peace process. So they’re our two big incentives; we would like to think that people would come out and vote.”
Critical of austerity
manifesto branded Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil as the yes men of Europe, saying they have endorsed the mistaken “right-wing” social and economic agenda of the European Commission. The Brussels power grab should cease, it argued.
The document called for an end to austerity policies, arguing these have shifted the burden of adjustment on to low and middle-income families. And it states that power should be radically realigned within the union.
Calling for the return of powers to member states from the EU institutions, the manifesto said the commission should be stripped of its right to initiate European law. It also called for increased weighting for the votes of small countries when ministers decide policy.
According to Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, who set out the party platform, the manifesto is best-described as “Euro-critical”. Sinn Féin was neither Eurosceptic nor Europhile and assessed policies on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Adams spoke about making the commission more accountable to the European and national parliaments. Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke against increased European budget surveillance, saying such “interference” had put Ireland on a “very, very dangerous” track.
While similarly minded campaigners in other countries are agitating for withdrawal from the EU, South candidate Liadh Ní Riada said that it is not what the party has in mind.
“Certainly I don’t think we’d be going saying, ‘look we should have a referendum on whether we pull out of Europe or not’. We’re in it now and we have to get the best deal possible for Ireland,” she said.
In Sinn Féin’s view, that should embrace more European Investment Bank aid and new deals on the debts of Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland and the defunct Anglo Irish Bank. It also called for the defence of workers’ pay and conditions and for a fairer distribution of Common Agricultural Policy funding.