22 April 1999 Edition
Sinn Féin set for Euro gains
Sinn Féin officially launched its candidates for the forthcoming European Union elections this week. The party is confident of making major gains in June in both the European and local elections. The candidates, announcved at a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday, 21 April, are Seán Crowe in Dublin, Mitchel McLaughlin in the Six Counties, Martin Ferris in Munster, Seán MacManus in Connacht/Ulster and Arthur Morgan in Leinster.
Sinn Féin is the only political paty which will contest all five EU electoral areas in Ireland on 11 June. The party's position is one of engaging with the European Union and its institutions in a critical manner. For republicans, the question is about what kind of Europe we want and how best this can be achieved, particularly in relation to key policy areas - EMU, CAP, Agenda 2000, regional policy, the environment, and social inclusion. Sinn Féin is committed to:
Working for reform and restructuring of the European Union
Advancing national democracy and economic and social justice
Defending Irish sovereignty and maintaining neutrality
Opposing membership of the NATO-led Partnership for Peace
Promoting a 32-County political and economic identity in the EU
Forging political alliances with other like-minded parties and struggles in the best interests of Ireland
The EU elections come at a critical time both in the search for a lasting peace in Ireland and in the development of Ireland's relationship with the rest of Europe. Sinn Féin wants to see a Europe representative of its people and not the Europe of today that is dominated by the larger states and transnational companies in whose interests it acts.
Sinn Féin wishes to see Europe defending democratic rights not eroding them, a Europe that will promote equality across the EU in terms of the rights of women, children, the disadvantaged and the aged.
Sinn Féin's vision is to transform politics in Ireland. This means both the achievement of Irish unity and the replacement of the old, conservative politics that have dominated the political landscape here. This is the party's committment in the upcoming elections.
Sinn Féin and the EU
Neutrality, economic and social progress and inclusivity, policies which put people before profit, community-led programmes for rural and urban development, protection of the environment and the pursuit of national sovereignty are the issues at the centre of Sinn Féin's EU election campaign which was officially luanched in Dublin on Wednesday, 21 April. Below is and edited version of the party's EU election manifesto.
One of the core issues facing voters is what kind of European Union we want and how best this can be achieved. Sinn Féin are committed to:
Working for reform, accountability and democracy
Advancing national democracy and economic and social justice
Promoting a 32 county political and economic identity
Peace and Independence
Sinn Féin is working to transform Irish society and develop agreement among the people of Ireland. We instigated and led efforts to secure a lasting peace and will continue to represent our electorate in working for:
The implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
Réiteach buan síochána
Irish unity and Independence
Sinn Féin believe that Economic Monetary Union will limit the right of Irish people to control their own economy. Our vision of European Union economic policy involves:
Decentralising power and decision making
Strengthening social provisions
Córas cánach forásach
A dignified standard of living for all
EU Structural Funds
Sinn Féin believes that the manner in which funds are allocated and controlled needs to be reformed. Sinn Féin are calling for:
Funds to be allocated efficiently and transparently
An end to discrimination in funding allocations
Maximise the participation of local communities
The promotion of a coherent all Ireland dimension to structural funds
Sinn Féin are committed to the principles of sustainable development. The aim of environmental policy both within Ireland and the European Union must be to create less pollution, use energy wisely and to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Sinn Féin are calling for:
All-Ireland approach to environmental issues
A ban on the production and sale of genetically modified foods
Enactment of EU waste legislation in the six counties and a more pro-active approach in the 26 counties
A ban on the use of incinerators
Sinn Féin is committed to the maintenance of positive neutrality and an independent foreign policy. Sinn Féin believes we should:
Oppose the militarisation of the EU and the participation by Ireland in military alliances eg: Partnership for Peace (PfP)
Reifreann ar bhallraíocht i PfP
Strengthen our unique position on the international stage as a neutral state in Europe
The recent much heralded start to reform of CAP did not address the huge inequalities which have led to large farmers winning out at the cost of smallholders. Sinn Féin believes we need:
Real reform of the CAP to keep the greatest number of farmers on the land
Gníomh práinneach chun cabhrú le feirmeoirí atá faoi bhagairt chlisiúnais
Funding for organic farming and rural development
Equality and bringing an end to exclusion and discrimination must be at the heart of EU social policy. Sinn Féin believes we must:
Provide childcare facilities
Extend social charter to the six counties
Infheistiú in oideachas, sláinte agus seirbhísí soisialta
Promote an equality agenda
European Candidate Munster
Martin Ferris, from Ardfert, Co. Kerry, is married to Marie and is the father of six children. As Sinn Féin's representative in North Kerry he has a proven record on both local and national issues.
Martin has been a member of Sinn Féin's Ard Chomhairle since 1994 and was centrally involved in the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement. He is currently a member of our talks team. He has travelled internationally, particularly in the United States, to promote our peace strategy.
Martin has been strongly involved in local politics over the past five years, particularly on issues such as the plight of small family farmers and rural decline, the continuing neglect of fishing communities and the problem of drug dealing and addiction.
Martin has spent a total of 13 years in prison for his political beliefs, including 47 days on hunger strike in Portlaoise prison in 1977.
Standing in the 1997 General Election as a first time candidate, Martin almost took a seat for Sinn Féin in the North Kerry constituency, receiving a total vote of 7,294.
In addition to the European elections, Martin will be standing for Sinn Féin in the local elections to both Tralee Urban District Council and Kerry County Council.
European Candidate Connaught/Ulster
Sean MacManus is married to Helen and is the father of two sons. Currently an Alderman on Sligo Corporation he has a proven and reliable record as a public representative, on both national and local issues. He has been a member of Sinn Féin's Ard Chomhairle for the past seventeen years, during which time he held the post of Party Chairperson for seven years.
He was also a key member of Sinn Féin's negotiating team at the Stormont peace talks which led to the creation of the Good Friday agreement last year. He has travelled extensively throughout Ireland, Europe and the US promoting Sinn Féin's peace strategy. A consistent defender of Ireland's sovereignty and neutrality, he was at the forefront of the Anti-maastricht and Anti-Amsterdam Treaty campaigns.
Sean, a native of Co. Cavan, has been a consistent and vigorous campaigner for the retention of Objective One status and the devolution and de-centralisation of real powers to Connaught/Ulster. He has also played an active role in opposing telecommunication masts being imposed on local communities against their will. Widely regarded as an honest and tireless representative, Sean MacManus offers the people of Connaught/Ulster an effective Republican Labour alternative to the tired old establishment parties, who are steeped in double dealing and scandals.
In addition to the European elections, Sean will be standing for Sinn Féin in the local elections to both Sligo Corporation and Sligo County Council.
EU Candidate Six Counties
Mitchel McLaughlin is 51 years old. He is married and lives in the Bogside area of Derry City with his wife Mary-Lou and their three sons, Niall, Ronan and Conor.
Mitchel McLaughlin, a member of the Party's National Executive (Ard Chomhairle), is currently Sinn Fein's National Chairperson. In this role he plays a major part in overseeing the political development of the Party .
Elected to the Derry City Council in 1985, Mitchel is now the leader of the Sinn Fein group on that body.
Mitchel was first politically active in the Civil Rights Association in 1968. He was also a leading member of the National H-Blocks Committee (a committee organised to campaign around the prison protests of the late 70's and early 80's).
He has played a central role in formulating Sinn Fein's current peace strategy and was instrumental in the drawing up of our two peace documents, Scenario for Peace (1989) and Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland (1992). He is one of Sinn Fein's main spokespersons on the peace process and travels widely to speak on behalf of the party.
He was elected as an Assembly member for Foyle in the 1998 elections.
EU Candidate for Dublin
Seán Crowe is married to Pamela and lives in Raheen, Tallaght. He is Sinn Féin's representative for Dublin South West and came close to winning a seat in the 1997 general election because of his record on local and national issues.
Seán has fought for the provision of Tallaght Hospital and has taken part in the ongoing campaign for a safe and regular transport system for the city. He has played a major role in the anti-drugs campaign and water rates campaign.
During the early days of the Peace Process, Seán was the head of the Sinn Féin mission to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation at Dublin Castle and is currently a member of Sinn Féin's talks team. This week he was part of the Sinn Féin delegation which met with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, at Downing Street. He has travelled internationally, particularly in Europe, to promote the party's peace strategy.
In addition to the European elections, Seán will be standing for Sinn Féin in the local elections to South Dublin County Council.
EU Candidate for Leinster
Arthur Morgan is married to Marion and is from Omeath, Co. Louth. As Sinn Féin representative in Louth he has a proven and reliable record on both national and local issues.
Arthur is a Director in the family fish processing company. He is a founding member of Cooley Environmental and Health Action Committee which campaign against Sellafield and has investigated the extraordinary high incidence of cancer in the North Louth area. He is also a member of various fishing groups, local and national, formed to protect the seas, fishing stocks and the livelihood of fishing communities.
A republican of long standing he has contested local and general elections on behalf of Sinn Féin. He is a member of Sinn Féin's Ard Chomhairle and was a key member of Sinn Féin's negotiating team at the talks which took place at Hillsborough last month.
In addition to the European elections, Arthur will be standing for Sinn Féin in the local elections to both Louth County Council.
Sinn Féin opposes Euro Monetary Union
Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Assembly member for Foyle, Mitchel McLaughlin, this week outlined the party's opposition to European Monetary Union. Describing the project as ``detrimental to the future of the Irish economy'' McLaughlin called for a concerted campaign to challenge EMU.
Outlining the economic priorities which are guiding monetary union McLaughlin said; ``The key policy objective of EMU is wholly dictated by tight deflationary fiscal criteria without any consideration of the impact of such policies on questions of unemployment, income and wage levels and social welfare protection.''
EMU, which came into effect across most of the EU last January, with the exception of Britain and the Six Counties, involves harmonising fiscal policy across member states. Rather than domestic governments developing their own policy a new European Central Bank will set standard interest and exchange rates.
Critics suggest that the economies of European member states develop at different rates and react differently to crises or downturns in the European economy, a single centralised fiscal policy will have different implications for different countries. The policy of the European Central Bank will inevitably be set in accordance with major players such as Germany, France and Italy. Ireland as a peripheral economy will lose out as European policy may not match domestic economic needs
McLaughlin said that this imbalance will mean: ``Governments will thus seek to increase the flexibility of the labour market in order to compensate for the loss of monetary policy as an economic instrument.
``This means more unemployment, underemployment, part time and low pay employment. None of which is good news for the Irish economy.''
McLaughlin also highlighted the fact that: ``Because the Six Counties has remained outside EMU and the 26 Counties inside it, another tier of obstacles have been placed in the way of creating a truly all Ireland economy. For Sinn Féin, which believes that such harmonisation is essential for the development and regeneration of the economy as a whole, such a situation is more bad news.''
Calling for a campaign to counter these negative effects of EMU McLaughlin said; ``It is imperative that Sinn Féin builds a stratgic project aimed at using the institutions of the EU to campaign for a different kind of economic policy. We must actively build alliances at home and abroad with like minded political parties and other sectors, in order to create a more people centered economic policy in Europe. It is our belief that monetary union runs contrary to such a policy.