Time to plan for Irish Unity’ – Gerry Adams TD

DSC_3254_6510Speaking in Washington last night Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD called on “all parties which see the value of Irish Unity to act together.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The academic paper by Professor Kurt Huebner of Vancouver University, entitled, ‘Modeling Irish Unification’, which was published in November 2015 is an important contribution to the debate about Irish unity. The author concluded that political and economic unification would likely result in a sizeable boost in economic outcomes and incomes in the North and a smaller boost in the South.

“In November 2016 Sinn Féin launched ‘Towards a United Ireland’. It is a detailed discussion paper setting out the arguments for a United Ireland. It addresses the impact on the economy, on inward investment, on exports, on the health service, on the border region and much more.

“It tackles head on and demolishes the argument that the people of the North and South cannot afford a United Ireland.

“The cause of uniting Ireland is not the property of any one grouping or party. That has always been Sinn Féin’s position. I therefore welcome Fianna Fáil’s entry into the discussion. It will be interesting to read the detail of whatever paper Fianna Fáil publishes. They should also engage with campaigning in communities and political actions and cooperation within the Oireachtas.

“For Sinn Féin’s part we are currently exploring the possibility of establishing a Dáil Committee on Irish Unity, that would bring forward proposals for what a United Ireland might look like, how we get there and how the Irish State needs to plan for reunification across all areas of the economy and society.

“To inform that discussion we are also working on a follow-up paper to our ‘Towards a United Ireland’ discussion document. It is a white paper-type document that lays out the benefits and outworkings of Unity across a range of areas, including enterprise, health, education, agriculture, energy, infrastructure and taxation on a short/medium and long term basis.

“It is expected that the British government will trigger Article 50 shortly to commence the negotiations on Brexit. This, the Assembly election results, which saw the Unionist parties lose their Assembly majority; and the announcement by the Scottish First Minister of a second Independence referendum, are the context for the current discussions on a United Ireland.

“It is crucial that Irish-America is fully aware of the hazard that a hard Brexit poses for the island of Ireland.  The reality is that Brexit is bad for the island as a whole. It runs contrary to the political, economic and social interests and aspirations of the Irish people. In the Brexit referendum vote in the North last June Brexit was rejected. This was repeated in the recent Assembly election which saw a majority of MLAs opposed to Brexit elected.

“The people of the six counties have not consented to being dragged out of the European Union. For the British government to ignore this fact flies in the face of the progress that been made in the North since the start of the peace process and the signing of the Good Friday.

“On Monday, Michelle O’Neill warned that Brexit will significantly undermine the Good Friday Agreement and lead to the imposition of a hard border. She argued that all of this increases the urgency for a referendum on Irish unity.

“The Good Friday Agreement obliges the Irish and British governments to legislate for unity if that is the choice of the people north and south. These changing times present real challenges and real opportunities. We need to continue to strategise, organise, and persuade for Irish Unity. We need to plan for a United Ireland. There is no short cut. Irish America has a real and crucial role in this transition.

“Reunification cannot be simply a case of adding the north to the south. It must be an agreed Ireland – in which unionists can feel comfortable and secure.

“It is about creating a new Ireland – in which the rights of citizens are upheld by the state. A new Ireland built on the principles of equality and inclusion. A new Ireland with a new constitution and Bill of Rights.

“A new Ireland with symbols and emblems to reflect a fair and inclusive society, that includes the safeguarding of British Citizenship and recognition of the Unionist Identity.

“This cannot be a rhetorical debate. All parties that see the value of reunification and hold to the ideal of unity must act together.

“There is an onus on the Irish government to plan for unity. To become a persuader for unity. To build the maximum agreement and to secure and win a referendum on unity.

“The days of leaving the debate on a united Ireland for another time are over. History has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to advance this entirely legitimate and logical objective. Let’s not waste it.”

Adams & Carthy Address Omeath Meeting On Threats To Rural Ireland

SF Omeath meeting Mar 4Sinn Féin Louth TD and party leader Gerry Adams and EU party candidate Matt Carthy last night addressed a meeting in the Granvue Hotel in Omeath. The event focused on the crisis in rural areas and the threats posed to rural communities by rural crime, the threat to the post offices, Narrow Water Bridge and future European funding.

Teachta Adams urged those present to support Matt Cathy who is standing for Sinn Fein in the European elections. “Matt is an enthusiastic and energetic public representative. He will make an excellent MEP representing the needs of this area in Europe.”

The Sinn Féin leader warned that “at a time when rural Ireland is under attack and thousands of citizens, mainly young people, have been forced to emigrate, we need an MEP and a strong team of Sinn Féin local councillors who will defend rural Ireland and prioritize its needs.

The policies of Fine Gael and Labour; including the property tax, septic tank charges, water charges later this year and other stealth taxes are impoverishing families and hurting rural communities.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The recent report from the Irish Postmasters Union warns that the postal network will have declined by 48% by 2017 without a proper government plan. This would be devastating for rural communities and must be opposed.

Sinn Féin is for equality of access to services, and greater investment in infrastructure and facilities outside of urban centres.”

Speaking on rural crime Gerry Adams said:

One of the biggest issues now facing rural communities is crime and the fear that crime generates, especially among vulnerable citizens. Many elderly people in rural Ireland feel that they have been abandoned.

The closure of Garda stations has put the safety of communities at risk as criminals and anti-social elements receive a boost of confidence in the absence of nearby Garda stations.

The Irish Farmers’ Association, the Garda Representatives Association, political representatives from across rural Ireland and the vast majority of Gardaí, have rejected Garda station closures as they know the value of community policing.

County Louth ranks fourth among the 26 counties for crime levels.

Recently myself and Councillors Edel Corrigan and Jim Loughran met An Garda Siochána on the issues of policing, crime levels and cross-border crime. I have also met senior PSNI officers.

Gardaí have acknowledged that the limited resources under which they have operated for many years, have now been cut further and that this is having a negative impact on policing.

In recent responses to my PQs the Minister for Justice revealed that Garda numbers in Louth have fallen from a high in 2010 of 314 Gardaí to a low in 2013 of 286.

Falling Garda resources will do nothing to reassure the community. What we need to see is a fully-resourced Garda plan for Louth which includes greater Garda visibility and an increase in community-based Gardaí.

The Louth TD called for greater emphasis on partnership policing between communities and the Garda. He said;We need effective partnership between the police and local communities. The Department of Justice and Equality must give proper recognition and resourcing to such groups.

Sinn Fein will continue to lobby the Minister for Justice on concluding the review of the Joint Policing Committees and will seek to ensure that the recommendations are effective and implemented.

Sinn Fein will also lobby the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to be more pro-active in conjunction with the IFA in relation to security on the farm. In the north, Sinn Fein Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has made this a priority.

The issue of crime and anti-social behaviour in this region cannot be separated from the general economic well-being and development of the county.”

Teachta Adams has called for a proper funding package to be put in  place by government to deliver the Narrow water Bridge. He said: “The failure of the Government to ensure that the Narrow Water Bridge was built is an opportunity missed. It has been a bad blow to County Louth.

Money from Europe became available through Special European U Programmes Body because of an under-spend and Sinn Fein Cllr Jim Loughran asserting a judicial challenge. The money offered was not enough to cover the costs and the project promoters were not in a position to raise the extra capital to cover the shortfall.

The government needed to provide a relatively small €6 million funding package from the Taoiseach and the Department of Transport.

When I raised this issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil, Enda Kenny said that he was in support of the project. I am disappointed that the Taoiseach’s actions did not match his words.

The bridge will be not be built on promises. A proper funding strategy needs to be put in place.

The Narrow water Bridge project can still go ahead in the future if the political will exists.”

Finally Gerry Adams called for the creation by local councils on both sides of the border of a European Union Funding Unit that would service the region of Louth, Armagh and Down.

This would allow councils to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the European programmes, in particular the 2014-2020 INTERREG budget.

This has been done to great effect in Belfast where millions of additional funding has been drawn down as a result.

If parties are serious about investment, infrastructure, job creation, energy efficiency and tourism, they should back Sinn Fein’s proposal for a more professional approach to drawing down funding from the EU and promoting the County Louth Border region in Brussels.”