Adams rejects Taoiseach’s claim on anti-Government vote

Sinn Féin leader says rejection of Coalition parties was a real call for change

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has rejected Taoiseach Enda Kenny's claim that the anti-government vote in both the local and European election was born out of frustration but said that he believed it was a real call for change from the electorate.

Speaking in Cork where Sinn Féin's Liadh Ni Riada was poised to take a seat for the party in Ireland South possibly on the first count, Mr Adams said that it was clear that the people wanted change and he hoped that Fine Gael and Labour would listen to that call.

“The Government is dismissing this vote as a protest vote and the Taoiseach, if I heard him properly said it was a sign of frustration by the electorate. It’s much more than that- it’s a sea change, the political landscape has changed profoundly.

“That demand for change is deep rooted and people are supporting what we are saying in terms of there being a fairer way other than the austerity measures imposed by this government so that message is very clear for Fine Gael and Labour.


“What is likely a consequence is that Labour and Fine Gael may start to lessen the burden on citizens - they may bring in some pre-general election moves to make things easier for people - Sinn Féin may never get credit for that and the effect it has on the government parties but that’s to the good.”

Mr Adams said the strong Euro vote for Ms Ni Riada, Lynn Boylan in Dublin, Matt Carthy in the south and Martina Anderson in the north was in some respects more reflective of the support for Sinn Féin than its local election performance and augured well for future in general elections.

“We should not take anything for granted - no two elections are the same - you have to judge like with like - local government with local government, general with general and European with European,” he said.

“I think the thing about the European election is that everybody had the opportunity to vote for the likes of Liadh Ni Riada where they might not have the opportunity to vote for a local councillor because we might not have had the capacity and structure to stand more candidates.”

Asked about the growing feminisation of Sinn Féin, Mr Adams said the party was very conscious that the majority of citizens on the island were women and the party was keen to reflect that running its greatest ever number of women candidates and more women candidates than any other party.

Mr Adams said that Ms Ni Riada will make an excellent MEP for Ireland South, bringing her "cultural sense as well as very sound progressive policies" to Europe and he believed the party was in contention to win four European seats, north and south.

Ms Ni Riada said: "I feel very proud as a Sinn Féin republican on this day which is a historic day for this constituency and of course this likely result today, it's been with the help of all my party colleagues, family and people on the ground - it really has been a terrific occasion for Sinn Fein. "

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times