Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD gave the main address today at the annual Easter commemoration in Drumboe, County Donegal, and launched a scathing attack on the Government over its austerity measures.
In a wide ranging address the Sinn Féin leader slammed the Irish government’s policy of austerity and the way it is kow-towing to the interests of golden circles and elites in Irish society and acting in their interests as opposed to the interests of Irish citizens.
He said: “The record of this government in its two years in power has been appalling. Fine Gael and Labour were elected to undo the damage of Fianna Fáil but have chosen instead to implement Fianna Fáil policies.
“The government’s austerity policies are driving up poverty and disadvantage. Emigration and unemployment are at record levels; public services, particularly health, are in crisis; the economy has flatlined and another new tax – the Property Tax – has to be paid by struggling families in the summer.
“Sinn Féin is introducing a Bill to reverse the Property Tax and will campaign for its repeal.”
Mr Adams also challenged those who are exploiting the controversy over flags and emblems in the North. He said: “Unionists leaders have to face up to the reality that the old ways and the old days are gone.
“Playing party politics with this issue is dangerous and counterproductive.
“There are many genuine loyalists and unionists, including former combatants, working in disadvantaged communities who realise the dangers and risks involved.
“They also know that it is citizens from these disadvantaged communities who will bear the brunt of any violent or disruptive actions.
“These communities have more in common with their republican neighbours than they may realise.
“Dialogue between them and Sinn Féin is essential and I commit our party, without preconditions, to be part of such discussions both in the short term as we face into the Orange matching season, and in the longer term to find, not only solutions to contentious issues but to tackle economic disadvantage.
“The vast majority of citizens want to live in a fair society based upon equality and Sinn Féin is committed to bring that this about. That’s why we are calling for a border poll on Irish unity to be held in the next term of the Oireachtas and the Assembly. The people should decide on the future direction of the island of Ireland.”
Mr Adams said that there is also a need to face up to legacy issues. Charlie Daly, Sean Larkin, Daniel Enwright and Timothy O Sullivan who are honoured at Drumboe, were republican volunteers who were summarily executed by Free State forces during the civil war.
Mr Adams said: “Seventy-seven republicans were executed during that period.
“There was never any process of reconciliation put in place after those catastrophic events.
“They still cast a shadow over Irish society today and shape political life in this state.
“Other republicans died in this state as a consequence of the conflict. Tom Smith, a republican prisoner, was killed in Portlaoise prison and Hugh Hehir was shot dead in County Clare.
“During the era of the heavy gang many citizens were brutally assaulted. Beatings were also common place within the prison system. And there was collusion between elements of the Irish establishment and the British forces in the North.
“Republicans also inflicted great hurt. Members of the state forces here, including Gardai were killed.
“These matters need to be faced up to. Sinn Féin believes that the best way of doing this is through the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission.
“The two governments’, former combatants and those in leadership across Ireland and Britain need to part of such a process. There can be no hierarchy of victims.
“The people of this island need a genuine process of national reconciliation.
“I am prepared to meet with victims’ families and others as part of this.”