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12 January 2015 Edition

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A crucial year for republicanism

Editorial | Eagarfhocal

In this new year, Sinn Féin will continue to work towards a united Ireland and a New Republic which cherishes all identities and puts the interests of citizens first.

2015 is an important year for republicanism; it could be crucial. Not only are there Westminster elections happening in May but there will possibly be a snap Dáil election this year if the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition doesn’t hang on until the last possible moment in 2016. And, of course, 2016 marks the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

There has not been a more appropriate time in Ireland’s recent history for a strong Sinn Féin to keep alive the ideals of the men and women of 1916 and to strive to achieve the goals that people laid down their lives for in the Easter Rising, in the years before, and in the years since.

The Fine Gael/Labour coalition has lost its mandate and now clings to power, imposing policies that are alienating huge numbers of citizens. It stumbles from one political crisis to another.

The over-riding theme of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition has been a deeply unfair economic policy and some of the most regressive Budgets in the state’s history.

The imposition of domestic water charges in the face of huge public opposition is the final straw for many. They have opened the floodgates of a grassroots rebellion. In the year ahead, Sinn Féin will continue to fight the water charges until they are scrapped.

Irish society faces a choice between the failed politics of the conservative parties who have ruled the 26-County state since the 1920s or a genuine republican alternative that offers the prospect of radical political change.

While the Centre Right realigns or re-emerges under new names or flags of convenience – trying to capitalise on people’s discontent – they offer nothing of substance in the way of radical change. 

Real change lies with Sinn Féin and the realignment it seeks of progressive-minded people across not just politics but community and campaign groups, trade unions and enterprise.

That’s the way forward for real change, for effective change.

In the North, the most vulnerable have been protected against Tory welfare and Budget cuts. Progress has also been made with regard to the issues of flags, the past and parading.

But much more needs to be done. The British and Irish governments have failed to deliver on commitments such as a Bill of Rights, Acht na Gaeilge, and an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane and other matters.

That said, the Stormont House Agreement demonstrates that, with the five main parties acting together (and despite the Irish Government’s almost silent acquiescence to British Tory diktats rather than asserting its place as co-partners in the Good Friday Agreement and successive international agreements on behalf of Irish citizens), significant progress can be made to safeguard the most vulnerable and rebuild the reputation of the political institutions.

In this new year, Sinn Féin will continue to work towards a united Ireland and a New Republic which cherishes all identities and puts the interests of citizens first.

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An Phoblacht
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