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6 May 2010 Edition

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Showing leadership

THIS week marks the 29th anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Bobby Sands, the then sitting MP in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.
The then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, dismissed the election of Bobby Sands in the campaign for the rights of political prisoners. Bobby and his nine comrades – Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Mickey Devine – all died on hunger strike in pursuit of their just demands and for the restoration of political status.
The 1981 election was a hugely significant one in historical and political terms. Voters in the North go to the polls today in what is also a very important election. Huge progress has been made on this island in the years since 1981 and republicans have been the driving force behind all the progress that has been made. This election is about continuing the process of positive change.
Sinn Féin has a political vision, a strategy, and an experienced leadership with a proven record as successful negotiators. Since the last Westminster elections, Sinn Féin has brought the DUP into the power-sharing arrangements and has delivered on the transfer of policing and justice powers from Britain to the North of Ireland.
Republicans have brought equality to the heart of government. Led by Martin McGuinness in the Executive, Sinn Féin ministers have made a real difference in people’s lives.
Sinn Féin now wants to bring to the issue of the economy the same focus that it brought to the Peace Process. Republicans seek to build a society based on equality for all citizens. To do that, more political and economic decision-making powers must be transferred from Britain to the North. All sections of the community need to work together to stop the cuts that the new British Government will attempt to impose on the Six Counties.
The politics of the unionist parties are not in the interests of ordinary working people. The UUP is in an alliance with the Tories while both the UUP and DUP are supporting a Tory candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
Meanwhile, the SDLP has shown poor leadership during this election. They refused even to meet with Sinn Féin to discuss the issue of defending those nationalist seats under threat from unionism. In Fermanagh and South Tyrone, it appears the SDLP would prefer to see a unionist Tory as the MP rather than a woman republican minister who has successfully represented all of the community. The SDLP is politically directionless. As the centre of political gravity increasingly shifts to the island of Ireland, the SDLP’s ambition amounts to being a fringe British party.
Voters in the North deserve much better than that.
In the time ahead, people want leadership: leadership to defend the Peace Process, to tackle the economic crisis and to oppose cuts. Sinn Féin are the only party who offer this. It is also the only party with a coherent, viable strategy for the reunification of Ireland.
If you haven’t voted and there’s still time, get out and vote. Vote to continue the process of positive change. Vote for the future. Vote for Irish unity. Vote Sinn Féin.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • Don't miss your chance to get the second edition of the 2019 magazine, published to coincide with Easter Week
  • This special edition which focuses on Irish Unity, features articles by Pearse Doherty, Dr Thomas Paul and Martina Anderson.
  • Pearse sets out the argument for an United Ireland Economy whilst Pat Sheehan makes the case for a universally free all-island health service.
  • Other articles include, ‘Ceist teanga in Éirinn Aontaithe’, ‘Getting to a new Ireland’ and ‘Ireland 1918-22: The people’s revolution’.

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