FG assault on sovereignty must be opposed – Ní Riada

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has urged people to send a strong Sinn Féin team to Europe to counteract the Fine Gael campaign against Irish sovereignty.

The Ireland South MEP was speaking at the party’s selection convention in Tipperary today where she was once again selected as the constituency’s candidate for the upcoming European election.

Ms Ní Riada was joined by party president Mary Lou McDonald in the Cahir House Hotel where they received a thunderous ovation from the packed hall.

“Week in and week out, we watch aghast in the European Parliament as Fine Gael MEPs brazenly support motions that dilute our sovereignty,” she said.

“They support politics that cut funding from social, environmental and educational programmes.

“They follow a political agenda which protects multinational corporations over the rights of ordinary citizens and over the interests of small businesses

“And make no mistake, Fine Gael MEPs are firmly wedded to following a path which will see Ireland pushed into an EU army.

“The creeping militarisation of the EU, aided and abetted by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, will see us committed to spending more and more money on defence while schools and hospitals crumble, while roads degrade to a dangerous state, while public services are either privatised or cut.

“The European Union of 2019 requires seismic and radical change.

“The privatisation agenda, driven by the EU, and implemented by our government with great relish, is taking money out of the pockets of ordinary citizens and transferring that money into the pockets of the wealthy and powerful.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right political will, we can have a better European Union – fair, progressive, just and social.

“An EU that puts the interests of ordinary citizens ahead of wealthy elites and corporations is possible.

“We want to see an EU that is a real community of nations – not a federalist behemoth which bulldozes the sovereignty of small member states.

“It is time for an EU that prioritizes the welfare of citizens.

“This means robust workers rights and decent jobs, access to affordable and public housing, access to socialised healthcare, strong social protection and a genuine commitment to economic justice.”

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FULL TEXT OF SPEECH
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Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Address to European Parliament Elections Selection Convention
Cahir House Hotel
Sunday, January 27, 2019

A chairde,

It is an honour to once again be selected as your candidate for Ireland South.

It’s particularly humbling to receive this nomination here, in Tipperary, where just last week we commemorated 100 years since the first shots of the Tan War were fired.

On the same day that Dan Breen, Seán Treacy, Seán Hogan, Seamus Robinson and others were preparing for the first engagement of what would be a long war, Sinn Féin MPs had gathered in Dublin to set up Dáil Éireann.

It was the first truly democratic structure this nation had ever seen.

The Democratic Programme of the First Dáil was a simple but profound document, one which, I am sad to say, we have yet to live up to a century on.

It declared that the country would be governed by the principles of liberty, equality and justice and in particular it promised “that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing or shelter.”

Tonight, thousands of children, from Belfast to Bantry, will sleep in emergency accommodation, on friends or relatives couches, or in doorways and parks.

Of all the things that have happened in the intervening century, that fact alone is perhaps the greatest betrayal of those who passed the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil.

We have had more than 90 years of a governmental pendulum swing from Fianna Fail to Fine Gael and back again.

Today, they continue to sustain the status quo in a partnership of confidence and supply.

Once again, Ireland needs radical, revolutionary change.

The need to advance Irish republican politics has never been more apparent.

This must happen at every level.

In our city and county councils, in Stormont, in Leinster House and yes, more crucially than ever, in the European Parliament.

A chairde, it is critically important that we send a strong, determind Sinn Féin team back to Brussels following the Elections in May.

Week in and week out, we watch aghast in the European Parliament as Fine Gael MEPs brazenly support motions that dilute our sovereignty.

They support politics that cut funding from social, environmental and educational programmes.

They follow a political agenda which protects multinational corporations over the rights of ordinary citizens and over the interests of small businesses

And make no mistake, Fine Gael MEPs are firmly wedded to following a path which will see Ireland pushed into an EU army.

They are, unashamedly, the lapdogs of the elitism at the heart of power in the European Union

We need a strong counterbalance in the European Parliament to show that they do not represent the views of the majority of the people.

Sinn Féin MEPs go to work every day not to advance the EU’s interests in Ireland.

We go to work every day to defend Ireland’s interests within the European Union.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, It was Sinn Féin MEPs who secured protections for the Good Friday Agreement.

It was Sinn Féin MEPs who pushed for special status, for the North when others baulked at the idea.

It was Sinn Féin MEPs who championed the democratic decision of the people of the North to remain.

And it was Sinn Féin MEPs who used the platform of the European Parliament to tell the Tory government, in no uncertain terms, that they can stick their border where the sun doesn’t shine.

As our Party Leader says, Ireland will not be collatoral damage in the Tory Brexit.

A chairde, Over the coming months Europe will have more impact than ever on Irish politics and Irish life.

Ireland needs a strong, progressive, socialist republican voice within the European Union to protect this island – our economy and our agreements – against the impact of Brexit

The tentacles of the Tory Brexit spread into every facet of Irish life.

Cuts to CAP will severely damage our agricultural sector.

The shunting of EU boats from British waters into Irish waters will destroy our fishing industry and coastal communities.

The creeping militarisation of the EU, aided and abetted by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, will see us committed to spending more and more money on defence while schools and hospitals crumble, while roads degrade to a dangerous state, while public services are either privatised or cut.

I would also caution against the notion that the backstop is an issue for the north and the border counties.

The reimpostion of a hard border on our island will have a devastating consequences for the entire Ireland – north, south, east and west.

We have countless businesses that rely on cross border trade and cooperation. Diageo drinks are brewed in Dublin but bottled in Belfast.

A third of all milk produced in the north goes to companies down south to be made into dairy products.

This is a huge amount of internal trade that will be lost and with it so will factories and businesses and jobs in towns like Dungarvan, Midleton and Cahir.

Partition affects us all, our country works better together and that is why it is so important that we are not only preparing for Brexit but preparing for a coming referendum on Irish unity. A referendum we will see and a referendum we will win.

The European Union of 2019 requires sesmic and radical change.

It has succumbed to the interests of powerful lobby groups and private enterprise.

It has been enchanted by the policy of privatisation, a political philosophy that has worked hard to make low wages, zero hour contracts, poor conditions and precarious work the norm.

It has fostered crises in health and housing as governments defund public provision of both in order to manufacture situations in which privatisation is presented as the only solution.

As a result our hospitals creak and our nurses reach breaking point.

Families cannot afford a home of their own.

Young people are burdened with extortionate, aspiration crushing rents.

The privatisation agenda, driven by the EU, and implemented by our government with great relish, is taking money out of the pockets of ordinary citizens and transferring that money into the pockets of the wealthy and powerful.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

With the right political will, we can have a better European Union – fair, progressive just and social.

An EU that puts the interests of ordinary citizens ahead of wealthy elites and corporations IS possible.

An EU built on that foundation would be a force for positive change in the world.

We want to see an EU that is a real community of nations – not a federalist behemoth which bulldozes the sovereignty of small member states.

It is time for an EU that prioritizes the welfare of citizens.

This means robust workers rights and decent jobs, access to affordable and public housing, access to socialised healthcare, strong social protection and a genuine commitment to economic justice.

An EU that won’t sit on the sidelines and anaemically mumble centrist weasel words when atrocities are carried out.

A just EU would use its significant international influence to stand up for justice and unashamedly condemn human rights violations in Palestine and Catalonia and wherever they occur.

A progressive EU would work to halt climate change, not by attempting to foist the blame and the cost onto ordinary working people through ineffective and unfair carbon taxes, but by standing up to massive multinational corporations

They must be told that as the biggest polluters of our planet, they must shoulder their share of the burden when it comes to undoing that damage.

None of this will be easy but all of it is possible.

If we can send a strong Sinn Féin team to Europe, if we can unite with allies in other countries facing the same issues, by working with our colleagues in councils, Stormont and Leinster House, we can build a future for our people that lives up to the Democratic Programme of the first Dáil

A future that Dan Breen, Seán Treacy, Seán Hogan and the countless volunteers of Tipperary and indeed all of Ireland would have been proud to risk their lives to defend.

I know that every person in this room will do everything possible to secure this seat for Sinn Féin and for the ordinary people we represent in Ireland South.

I will be honoured to have you all by my side as we undertake this task together.

GRMA

An Phoblact Abú!

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