Top Issue 1-2024

11 March 2022

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We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine

• Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard at the Stop the War Coalition rally in London

Many thanks to the Stop the War Coalition for the invitation to speak here today on behalf of Sinn Féin. It’s always an honour to share a platform with the Coalition - an organisation that has time and again proven itself to be on the right side of history.

An organisation that acts as a consistent disrupter of the establishment consensus when it comes to international affairs; and for that you should be commended always.

Friends, first and foremost today we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who facing the deadly reality of Russian aggression, are fleeing their homes, seeking shelter and safety across Europe.

Anyone who has seen the pictures coming out of Ukraine cannot help but be deeply saddened and troubled. Families being loaded onto trains for refuge. Mothers standing up to soldiers of occupation.

With this in mind, I welcome the fact that the Irish Government, like many other European states, has lifted visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees.

Boris Johnson, and the British Govt must do likewise. There should be zero restrictions on those refugees forced to leave Ukraine to come to these islands.

We stand in solidarity also today with the growing number of protesters in Russia who oppose Putin’s war.

Those, who despite the repressive reaction of the Russian state have come onto the streets to demand an end to the death and destruction. Their courageous call for peace should be a beacon for progressive forces across Europe to come onto the streets and demand an end to this war.

Crowds at London’s March 5th Stop the War rally

• Saturday 5 March – Crowds at London’s Stop the War rally

Today I am also proud to stand in solidarity with all those anti-war and peace activists across the global north, who are once again slandered as stooges and painted as puppets by establishment forces.

Sinn Féin are proud to stand with you. We must join forces with peace and social movements across Europe to stop this war.

Progressive forces must raise our voice for de-escalation. We must drown out the irrational, confrontational rhetoric and threats of increased military action.

And whilst the eyes of the world appeared glued to the scenes in Ukraine - let us also raise our voices for those who shelter from aerial bombardment in Yemen, in Syria, in Somalia, and to the men, women and children of Palestine, who endure the brutal, repressive realities of daily life under the apartheid Israeli regime.

Friends, be under no illusions, we are facing the greatest security crisis in Europe for decades.

A failure to deescalate this crisis will lead Europe once again to the brink of wholesale conflict, and will undoubtedly deliver more death; more destruction; and an even deeper humanitarian crisis.

Every war must end at some point and diplomacy must restart. Rather than allow this war to escalate and for positions to harden still further, it is vital that the guns fall silent and the discussions recommence.

What is needed is a comprehensive, sustainable and an immediate ceasefire, an end to the aerial bombardment, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and a return to the negotiating table.

To return to the Budapest, and Minsk agreements which accepted the legitimacy of Ukraine’s independence, and created the basis for constructive dialogue and space for recognising the pluri-national reality of the state of Ukraine.

After many years of war, I am part of a generation that grew up in a post-conflict society in Ireland. Like many of you here today, I too have only known Europe free from Cold War tensions. The thought of Europe sliding once again into the imperialist wars of the past is horrifying, and must be actively opposed.

However, the solution to this escalation of military violence is not more violence.

The solution is political, based on the principles of common collective security which protects the well-being of all peoples, and respect for human rights and international law.

A modern-day escalation in armed conflict, increased militarisation and the spectre of nuclear war is a powerful reminder yet again of the need to build a genuine multipolar geopolitical world, where peace is not merely the absence of war, but the existence of social justice.

So, in rejecting the military-industrial complex, we urgently need a security architecture that prioritises peace, social justice, and recognises the sovereignty of small nations and their right to peacefully determine their own future.

Across Europe, it is clear that the ordinary people want an autonomous European security policy that dismantles nuclear weapons, delivers demilitarisation, and nurtures peaceful diplomatic relations between neighbouring states.

Following a decade of austerity, rising inequality, and stagnating living standards, the ordinary people of Europe want peace, and social justice.

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazard with former Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn

• Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard with former Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn

An increase in military expenses, fuelled and justified by the increased military tensions and war-mongering rhetoric is totally unacceptable as ordinary workers and families face into economic hardship yet again.

Valuable resources that could help eradicate growing inequalities across Europe must not be spent on the prospect of a prolonged war - for as always, the unbearable costs of war are always paid by the working classes.

Speaking in 1914, James Connolly described war as “the most fearful crime of the centuries. In it the working class are sacrificed that a small clique of rulers and armament makers may sate their lust for power and their greed for wealth!”

The arms industry must no longer enjoy impunity, making billions in revenue while destroying our planet and depriving our unborn generations of their right to a peaceful future.

As we face the unstoppable march of climate breakdown, and the stagnant symptoms of a decaying capitalist system, ordinary citizens demand that our collective energies are deployed positively in order to build a better world.

We must focus our energies on achieving climate goals, leading a socially just transition, rebuilding our fraternal relationship with the global South, and always prioritising peace and social justice.

Invasion, occupation, weapons and wars should belong to the past; the future of Europe, and humanity, must be peace!

Solidarity now, and always!! 

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