Adams defines republicanism for Sinn Féin of future

 

SINN FÉIN leader Gerry Adams has said that the attainment of Irish unity by reconciliation will comprise what he described as the “big democratic phase of [his party’s] struggle”.

In a major policy speech delivered last night, Mr Adams set out a detailed definition of republicanism for his party for the future, which he said would be relevant for the modern post-conflict era.

He said partition had failed Ireland and his party believed in unity but it could be achieved only by all the people, not by an elite or a vanguard. The speech will be received by others as a shift in the party’s position.

“It’s worth reminding ourselves that this isn’t 1798. This isn’t 1916. This isn’t 1981. The men and women of those generations took the core principles of republicanism and modernised them and made them relevant to their own times,” he said. “That’s what we have to do – we have to take the core values of our political ethos and make them relevant to our time, and in our place of activism, whether that is in the community, in local government, in the Assembly or in the Dáil.”

Outlining his definition, Mr Adams said a new agreed Ireland based on the rights of citizens was needed. “This is best achieved by unity through reconciliation. This isn’t just an emotional or patriotic or inspirational dream. This is a very hardnosed realisable objective as part of the process of building a new republic.”

He said elites and vanguards can take the initiatives, make the sacrifices and shape the political conditions for change. “But the only true freedom of people is when people shape that for themselves. So this is the big democratic phase of our struggle.”

The Louth TD was speaking at the opening of constituency offices for Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín.

Mr Adams also made his most explicit call to date for a Border poll. He also implied that the strong surge by Sinn Féin in the Republic had prompted other parties to take a renewed interest in the North, including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

“People might take the Fianna Fáil leader more seriously if he supported the efforts to get fiscal powers transferred to the North’s Executive,” he said. “Or if Fianna Fáil organised in the North as they have frequently pledged to do.” He said the live issue was a “live issue” that was given added impetus by the referendum decision for Scotland. He also criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for dismissing the suggestion so readily when the Sinn Féin leader raised the issue in the Dáil last week.

Mr Adams also disclosed new details of budget proposals that Sinn Féin will present next month. He said the party’s alternative budget would be a realistic and fully costed one. Among the new measures would be a gambling tax that would raise €243 million; a reduction in the use of consultants by Government – to save over €5 million – and the auction of the analogue signal following the introduction of Saorview, which he said would raise €200 million. He also reiterated the party’s pledge to cap public salaries at €100,000; raise €800 million from a 1 per cent wealth tax; remove the public subsidy on State schools; introduce a new 48 per cent tax rate and a quick move towards introducing generic drugs, which would save some €280 million.