South and East Belfast Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Adams addresses South Belfast Sinn Féin business breakfast discussion

Published: 9 November, 2010

Sinn Féin MLA for south Belfast Alex Maskey was this morning joined in the constituency by Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy MP and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP.

They were attending a breakfast briefing and discussion for business figures from throughout the city.

Mr Adams addressed those in attendance and outlined the recent proposals put forward by the party to help stimulate the economy in the north. The event also allowed the business people to engage directly with the Sinn Féin leadership during a useful question and answers session.

The event is the first in number planned to engage directly with the small and medium sized business sector over the coming weeks and months.

Speaking afterwards south Belfast MLA Alex Maskey said;

"I thank those who took the time to take part in this morning's event; Sinn Féin is committed to delivering our message in the form of our recent economic document, "There is a Better Way" and engaging directly with the business community so that they are aware of what we are doing but also afford them the opportunity to help shape and make suggestions on issues of concern to them." CRÍOCH

NOTES TO EDITORS: Attached is a copy of the speech delivered at the event by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams as well as a photo of Mr Maskey, Mr Murphy, Mr Adams and the Sinn Féin candidate for east Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile:

Speech by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, MLA
At South Belfast Sinn Féin Business Breakfast,
Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast on 9th November 2010

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Dia daoibh ar maidin a chairde agus tá fáilte mór romhaibh uilig anseo.

I want to welcome all of you this morning.

This business breakfast is an important opportunity for myself and Alex Maskey and Conor Murphy to outline to you our goals for the future.

We are also happy to listen to any comments you wish to make about Sinn Féin's work in South Belfast, or indeed Belfast, and to take any suggestions, criticism or advice you wish to offer.

This is a difficult time for citizens across this island.

The economic crisis confronting all of us was fashioned by bankers, and facilitated by government parties in Dublin and in Westminster.

Sinn Féin believes that the austerity policies being pursued by the British and Irish governments will only make this crisis worse.

It will create further hardship for those most in need, will undermine essential public services and retard economic growth.
There is an alternative.

Sinn Féin has brought forward sound costed economic proposals for the economies north and south, which will promote growth, invest in jobs, encourage business, safeguard public services and protect those most in need.

The greatest share of the business base in the North consists of small to medium sized local companies which many of you run.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.

We need to have more people thinking about starting and running successful businesses and more existing businesses looking at opportunities to grow.

Last month Sinn Féin launched, 'There is a Better Way,' our party alternative strategy for dealing with the current economic crisis in the north. Last week we published our pre-budget submission in Dublin.

Our proposals are about tackling waste, saving money, raising revenue, and investing in jobs, building infrastructure and protecting public services.

Sinn Féin is also the only all-Ireland party.

We are first and foremost Irish republicans.

We believe the British government has no right to be in our country.

Our primary goal is a free, independent, United Ireland - a new republic in which there will be reconciliation between nationalists and unionists - between orange and green.

Achieving this will not be easy. We know that.

Elements of political unionism continue to oppose the power sharing system in the north and the all-island institutions.

Significant elements of unionism and influential elements within the British establishment, fear change; fear equality; fear the institutional and legislative reforms brought about through a decade of very focused negotiation by Sinn Féin.

But the Good Friday Agreement recognises that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone to determine our own future - to exercise our self-determination.

The challenge for Irish republicans is winning the argument and building support for this.
On an island of less than 6 million people it does not make sense to have two competing political systems.

It does not make sense, especially at a time of economic crisis, for Ireland to have two competing economies and an expensive duplication of public services.

Irish unity makes sense.

It makes political sense. In particular it makes economic sense.

The economic benefits of the all-Ireland bodies, established under the Good Friday Agreement, are evidence of this.

But much more can be achieved and we need your help in this.

Next May there will be Assembly and Local government elections on the same day.

This provides a unique opportunity to significantly advance our republican objectives.

South Belfast has an important role to play in this.

Our focus is on retaining the Assembly seat held by Alex.

But Sinn Féin will also be standing 5 local council candidates across this constituency.

I believe citizens will respond positively to our excellent record of work and achievement in local government and in the Assembly, and we will see an increase in the seats held by Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin needs to grow our connections into the South Belfast community.

Despite this we have a core of very experienced party activists.

We also have Alex Maskey as the sitting MLA.

Alex has shown great leadership throughout his eyars in public office.

In 1983 Alex was first elected to Belfast City Council. He was at that time a lone Sinn Fein voice among 51 Councillors.

He was shouted down at meetings and threatened with violence. They refused to let him speak.

As other Sinn Féin Councillors joined him the unionists changed the rules so that no republican could hold a position on any of the Council Committees.

At the same time unionist death squads, working in collusion with the RUC and British intelligence, attacked and killed and wounded Sinn Féin members and our families.

On one occasion a close friend of Alex, Alan Lundy was shot dead in Alex's living room when the family home was attacked.

On another occasion Alex himself was shot and seriously wounded at his front door.

But he remained undaunted. As Mayor of Belfast he demonstrated real leadership in seeking to be a Mayor for all the citizens of this city.

His courage and vision, particularly during the efforts to build the peace process, have been obvious.

Alex moved from a safe seat in west Belfast to stand in South Belfast to give real and effective leadership to citizens in this part of the city.

His political wisdom and vision was again evident when he stepped aside during the last Westminster election to allow for the nationalist vote to be maximised.

Regrettably others chose to put party political self interest above the needs and interests of nationalists.

As well as being an MLA Alex is on the Policing Board.

This has been particularly challenging given the history of policing in this state and Alex has provided significant leadership in this regard also.

Today thanks to many years of committed dedicated work Sinn Féin has grown from that lone Council seat won by Alex in 1982 to being the most popular party in Belfast and in the north of Ireland.

We have 5 Ministers in the Northern Executive; 27 MLA's in the Assembly; 4 TDs in the Irish Parliament; 336 Councillors across the island of Ireland; an MEP; and 5 members of the Westminster Parliament.

This is an extraordinary achievement.

That is why I am confident that this generation of Irish republicans will be the generation that ends the partition of Ireland and constructs a new national democracy - a new republic - on the island of Ireland.

That's why I am confident we will have our United Ireland.

So, at this breakfast this morning I am inviting you to join with us on this journey that we are on.

To work with us in building a new and better society, a more prosperous society for all the citizens of South Belfast and of this island.
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