2 May 2002 Edition
Ferris poll boost
Bookies in Tralee are refusing to take any more bets on Martin Ferris after a poll in The Kerryman on Wednesday morning indicated that the Sinn Féin candidate is set to top the poll on 17 May.
The poll in the three-seat constituency shows Ferris on 30.4%, followed by Labour's Dick Spring on 24.1%, and Fine Gael's Jimmy Deenihan on 21%, with Fianna Fáil's Tom McEllistrom and Dan Kiely trailing badly, on 13.3% and 8.4%, respectively.
Ferris, who in recent months has had to endure a sustained barrage of political attack and hostile media coverage, culminating in being arrested and assaulted by gardaí, welcomed the poll but warned supporters not to get carried away.
"These results are not a great surprise to us in North Kerry because they reflect the response we've been encountering on the doorsteps," he told An Phoblacht. "But the opinion poll that matters is the one that takes place on election day. We will continue to campaign with the same motivation and determination right up to 17 May. I am confident that the people of Kerry North will elect a Sinn Féin TD and that the same level of support will be reflected for our candidates across the 26 Counties."
Ferris also spoke of the "desperate attempt by a small number of gardaí to prevent me being elected. It hasn't worked and it won't work. The response indicated in this poll shows that the people of North Kerry have seen through this."
Sinn Féin puts equality centre stage
Gerry Adams says Sinn Féin expects to win three seats in the forthcoming general election and win or lose others by a handful of votes. "We are fighting every seat to win. Let's see how the campaign plays out," he said. Adams was speaking at the launch of the party's general election campaign at the party's head office in Dublin on Monday, 29 April.
Adams was accompanied by Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central), Mairéad Keane (Wicklow), Director of Elections Lucilita Breathnach, Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin West), Seán Crowe (Dublin South West) and Arthur Morgan (Louth).
When asked by journalists about Bertie Ahern's negative comments about coalition with Sinn Féin, Adams said that no one believed Ahern or any other Taoiseach-to-be would not come looking for Sinn Féin's support "if it comes down to it and if we have that mandate". He added that Ahern had also said the government's greatest single achievement had been the Good Friday Agreement and "no one underestimates the role played by Sinn Féin in that, so the Taoiseach's position is not credible".
"The big difference between this and previous election campaigns is the Sinn Féin challenge to the other parties," he told reporters. "Sinn Féin has been central to the agenda for change on this island."
"We are now the largest nationalist party in the north, the only all-Ireland party on the island, and we are standing 37 candidates in 34 constituencies in this election," said Adams.
"Sinn Féin is now poised to make a significant breakthrough and translate our potential into political strength in Leinster House.
"We are contesting this election as part of our effort to strengthen the peace process and under the banner 'Building an Ireland of Equals'.
"The issue of equality is central to what we believe in and we will be challenging all of the other parties and putting this issue centre stage during this campaign.
"So far this election has been dominated by bickering and posturing between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Their manifestos are classic examples of the politics of election promises. But in between elections over the last ten years Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, along with their surrogates in the PD and Labour parties have managed to widen the gap between the rich and the poor.
They have invested in the wealthy, instead of health, education and infrastructure. They have had their opportunity and they failed.
"All of this needs to be changed. Everyone needs to be treated as equals.
"So Sinn Fein will be seeking support for:
Our peace strategy
The full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
A peaceful and democratic strategy for Irish unity
Complete reform of the health service and education
Provision of quality, affordable childcare
Radical action to solve the housing crisis
A policy of positive neutrality
Uphold the Nice Treaty referendum result
A strategy for rural development
"Clearly, if there is to be the type of fundamental changes that are required; if a fair and equal society is to be created, then there needs to be an alternative to those conservative parties which have dominated politics in this state since partition.
"That alternative has to bring together all those progressive elements, which want to shape an Ireland of equals.
"Many people are disillusioned by the way politics have been conducted here, by the revelations of corruption and the increase in poverty. Others are active in the community and voluntary sector. Some are part of the other political parties. All of us must find some way of coming together to transform this island, to share the wealth and to uplift the disadvantaged and the deprived.
"Sinn Féin does not pretend to have all of the answers but we do want to be the lead party in offering an alternative vision and we are committed to help bring it about. That is what Irish republicanism is really about.
"So our project in this election is about building the peace process, building Irish unity, while at the same time shaping the agenda so that this society can go forward on the principles of social and economic equality.
"I have no doubt from the response I and my colleagues have been receiving that there is huge goodwill towards Sinn Féin. Our task in the next few weeks is to convert that good will into votes. I am confident we will do that."
Election reduced to a lottery of public finances
Speaking at the launch of the party's candidates for the general election at the Mansion House in Dublin on Wednesday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams attacked the other parties for reducing this election to a lottery of public finances. He said that it was time to get back to politics and the type of society that we want to create.
"The election campaign so far reminds me of what some people go through when you try to get an estimate for a job of work," he said. "You get estimates. Many times you will be told that one person can do it cheaper than the other person. But what you are all the time mindful of is that it is your money that is being spent and what is important is whether the people involved can do the job you want, at the quality you want it. So you judge them on the other work that they have done.
"It is the same in this election campaign. When you get beyond the 'I can do it cheaper than anyone else nonsense' that has dominated the media agenda so far, you have to ask whether the conservative parties can do the job that the majority of people want? In other words do you believe them? I don't!
Of course, on this May Day we have to be mindful that many people don't have the luxury of getting estimates for jobs of work because they don't have homes to be refurbished or redecorated or cars to be fixed, or even if they do they can't afford any improvements.
"What we do know, when we get beyond all of the dodgy arithmetic, is that it was the lack of political will on the part of these conservative parties that has led to the health and housing crisis, despite a booming economy.
"The big question is do they want a real health service, do they want real public services, do they want equality and are they prepared to shape government and administrative policy to bring this about? On their record the answer to that is No.
"We do know that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the PDs all want the same type of society. We do know that they want a continuation of what has gone on up to now, with perhaps a little bit of tweaking here and there.
So what the election campaign has been about so far is about trying to baffle people with figures and projections. Whether it is deliberate or by accident, they have spent the last six days talking to the movers and shakers in Irish society, to those who are well off and who they think will vote for them on the basis of the price is right.
"But the vast majority of people want a society which is egalitarian and just. None of the conservative parties can deliver that. They have all been in power lots of times. They have all made lots of promises - lots of times, and they have broken these promises - lots of times.
"Sinn Féin brings a different set of ideas to this election. We believe the economy should serve the people and not the other way round. We are an all-Ireland party with a vision of a society based on equality. And on this May Day, we want to put James Connolly's vision on the political agenda."
Sinn Féin confident and strong - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin is going into the general election confident and strong, said TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin last week, as the election was called. He said the party would be campaigning to build on the peace process, to advance towards Irish unity and to create an Ireland of equals.
"Sinn Féin goes into this general election confident and strong," said Ó Caoláin. "We are in a better position than ever to make significant gains. Sinn Féin has been on an election footing for the past 12 months. Canvassing has been ongoing since the start of the year in all our key constituencies. The response has been excellent in every area.
"This has been the most long-awaited general election in the history of the State. It is now time, at last, for the people to give their verdict on a Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats Coalition government which has failed to harness unprecedented prosperity to create social and economic equality. The wealthy have benefited most from the boom. Others have had to wait and it is lower earners who suffer most from the chaos in the health services and the housing crisis.
"The FF/PD government failed to learn the simple equation that better public services mean a better quality of life for all.
"Sinn Féin's vision is of an Ireland of Equals. We want to build on the progress in the peace process, advance towards the unity of our island and our people and to create real equality so that all can share in the benefits of the economy.
"It has been my privilege to represent Sinn Féin and my constituents in Cavan/Monaghan for the past five years. I look forward with confidence to continuing that representation in the new Dáil as part of a team of Sinn Féin TDs."