23 February 2006 Edition
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2006 EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Important resolutions on human rights
The Ard Fheis began with resolutions on the issue of Rights of the Disabled, of immigrants and asylum seekers, women's rights, the sex industry, civil and political rights, and Gender Equality. Important resolutions were passed committing the party to work to promote rights, in the context of international conventions.
Catríona Ruane called for the Irish Government to fund the 26-County Human Rights Commission to the equivalent level of the North. Delegates also called for a Roundtable Forum, under an international chairperson, to take forward the next stage of the Bill of Rights.
Ruane reminded people of the power of the civil rights campaign and said Sinn Féin would continue to fight discrimination in all its forms, be it the rights of disabled, gays, women, or of those in poverty. The party was committed to fighting for an All-Ireland Charter of Rights, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.
The Ard Fheis endorsed the work of several disability groups, and of Sinn Féin TDs in opposing the Irish Government's flawed Disability Act. Delegates called for strong policies at local government to secure the rights of the disabled to access buildings and public transport.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD proposed motions on the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, in particular defining the notions of human trafficking, the rights of unaccompanied minors, the right to stay once children attain the age of majority, the right to seek asylum on grounds of fear of female genital mutilation, the right not to be returned to a war torn country, all of which have been ignored under Michael McDowell's tenure of the Justice Department.
Delegates voted to retain Sinn Féin's existing policy on abortion, which several speakers supported as a policy which is compassionate, embracing, and which takes account of the appalling situation of those 230,000 women who, since 1983, have had to leave the country to seek abortion services abroad.
The Ard Fheis also unanimously endorsed the view that violence against women is systemic throughout Ireland, and called on the governments to combat the situation which statistically indicate that one in every five women suffers domestic violence and abuse.