Adams calls for coalition with Labour and Greens SF leader urges change to keep FF and FG out of power


CROSS-PARTY RELATIONS:SINN FÉIN leader Gerry Adams, speaking to the party’s weekend ardfheis, has urged the Labour Party and the Greens to join a coalition to force radical change in Irish politics and to keep both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael out of power.

“The dominance in this State of two large conservative parties can be brought to an end if a new alignment in Irish politics, North and South, can be created. The replacement of the current Coalition at some future election by another coalition with Fine Gael as the main party would be like replacing Tweedledum with Tweedledee.

“In my view the Labour Party has a duty not to prop up either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Instead Labour should explore with us and others the potential for co-operation in the future,” said Mr Adams, in his presidential address to the ardfheis on Saturday evening.

The party leadership opposed a number of motions from the floor demanding that Sinn Féin stay independent of all other parties in any future coalition talks, and, in particular, with Fianna Fáil, which has “decimated” smaller parties in the past.

Opposing the motions, Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said a final decision on coalition would be made by a future party ardfheis, adding that “no party” currently comes near Sinn Féin’s requirements.

“In the meantime let us not lock ourselves out of the political debate or restrict our ability to use political strategies to advance our project. Our job is now to build the party,” he said. Sinn Féin would have to decide firstly if a potential partner “could measure up to the policy commitments” and advance Irish unity.

Despite expectations that Sinn Féin would offer details of an economic strategy that has been worked on for some months, leading figures carefully stuck to a recitation of policies the party has been voicing for months.

Opposing the Government’s €1.4 billion pension levy on State workers, Sinn Féin said extra money should be spent to build schools and railways, while small businesses should be given assistance to expand and to export.

Top bankers should be sacked without compensation and bank credit should be guaranteed for small firms, while banks should also be prevented by law from repossessing for two years homes owned by those in trouble with paying mortgages.

A number of leadership changes have been made, including the uncontested election of Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald as vice-president in place of Pat Doherty, who is standing down after 21 years in the role. Wexford-born Dawn Doyle, who has previously served as the party’s press chief and policy director, is to become general secretary, while Maurice Quinlivan from Limerick will become one of the party’s two treasurers.

Outlining the stance the party will take when the Lisbon Treaty is voted on again, Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said the Government is now claiming it had won valuable concessions, when it had previously insisted no concessions could be made.

“There will undoubtedly be an attempt to blame our current economic crisis on the rejection of Lisbon. This is utter nonsense. Lisbon was neither responsible for our economic woes, nor will it solve them,” she said.

Calling for an election, Mr Adams said: “This Government protects its wealthy friends and targets the sick, the elderly and children. This Government has failed the people. It has opted to pick their pockets and to mug lower and middle-income earners.”

The Government, he said, is “giving billions of euros to the banks with almost no strings attached” to “bail out its property developer friends in Anglo Irish Bank, despite the way Anglo Irish and Irish Life Permanent cooked their books”.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan should resign because he “never bothered to read the relevant documents before sinking tax-payers’ money into a financial cesspit. Or at least that’s what he tells the rest of us. Woody Guthrie once wrote. ‘Some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen.’ Criminality of any kind is unacceptable. All categories of gangsters or banksters must face the full rigours of the law,” Mr Adams said.