23 February 2006 Edition
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2006 ALL IRELAND AGENDA
BY ROBBIE SMYTH
All-Ireland all stars can't vote
Seán Oliver opened the section on the all-Ireland agenda, reminding delegates that "this is the very core of our political project". Oliver said that "the all-Ireland agenda is about using our structures in every county in Ireland". This would enable us to take forward our vision of a new Ireland of equals. We need to co-ordinate according to Oliver the work of the elected reps in Europe, Leinster House, the Assembly and the councils across the island and now also in Udaras na Gaeltachta.
Speaking in the live section Oliver also addressed the TV viewers saying that they will see the genuine article, the republican party who "walk it like we talk it and who believe it in our hearts".
Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, speaking on motions 131 and 132 dealing with the All-Ireland consultative forum and the failure of the Dublin and London Governments to move on the all Ireland agenda, told the delegates that partition is "not just bad for nationalists, it is bad for every citizen. Our task is to end it."
Gildernew argued that Sinn Féin has to "move beyond the intransigence of unionism, past the dead hand of the northern civil services and past the West Brit Dublin mindset that has abandoned rural Ireland and our urban communities".
Pointing out the failures of other parties Gildernew also said that in February 2004 Sinn Féin submitted detailed plans for the expansion of the all-Ireland agenda and that it was only now that other parties were catching up. She said: "Peter Hain now recognises that the Six Counties is unsustainable, Dermot Ahern's vision has finally stretched past Dundalk and the SDLP are moving towards the All-Ireland agenda."
Martin Ferris spoke on motion 138 dealing with participation in the Dáil by Six-County MPs. Ferris told the hall that he was present on one of the occasions that Bertie Ahern gave an undertaking to facilitate the participation of elected representatives from the Six Counties in Leinster House and that he was now "in clear breach of promise".
Ferris said that "the only people who are expected to adhere to every word and nuance of past agreements, and indeed to continually go beyond them, are republicans".
The role of the Progressive Democrats in blocking Six-County participation in Leinster House was also raised by Ferris who said that the PDs have "continually attempted to subvert the Good Friday Agreement and to sabotage political progress". They were he said "no different in any way to the DUP or the anti-agreement elements of the British security services".
Outgoing All-Ireland Co-ordinator Martina Anderson emphasised the equality aspects of the all-Ireland agenda. She said: "An Ireland of equals has to be based on the premise that all of us on the island... have equal rights."
Declaring the need for a "judiciable Bill of Rights", Anderson said that Sinn Féin's vision was "not a narrow one". Sinn Féin was not "seeking power for itself, based on false promises".
Donegal Councillor Pearse Doherty also spoke on how failed partitionist polices had left the county with unemployment and poverty rates way over the national average.
Doherty said that: "Partition has failed, two health systems, two education departments and all the duplication of all the other services on this island doesn't make sense."
Another nonsense was highlighted by Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff who in a rousing speech to the hall pointed out the fact that only four of the current 15 GAA football all stars would be able to vote in a presidential election.