Gerry Adams lashes out at Micheál Martin's 'nasty little soundbites' in Ard Fheis speech
Published 23/04/2016 | 21:18
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hit out at Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independent TDs in his speech to his party’s Ard Fheis.
He targeted most of his ire at Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, a tactic that had been employed by his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald earlier.
Mr Adams claimed that Sinn Féin had been “willing” to talk to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil “in the interests of delivering change” but that “they refused to talk to us”.
He accused them, and Mr Martin in particular, of “nasty little soundbites” that would “make the DUP blush” suggesting that Sinn Féin isn’t fit for government.
Mr Adams said Mr Martin said that he would not put Enda Kenny back into government but claimed that is “exactly what he is doing” by engaging in minority government talks.
He claimed that Mr Martin “knows” that a government led by Mr Kenny won’t resolve crises in homelessness and health and that the leadership of Fine Gael “have little interest in Irish unity”.
He said that Mr Martin would prefer to return Fine Gael to government “as part of his effort to counter the growth of Sinn Féin.”
Mr Adams said he had a message for the Fianna Fáil leader.
“You promised in your manifesto to abolish Irish Water and to scrap water charges. Water charges must go. Irish Water must go.”
Earlier Ms McDonald accused Fianna Fáil of borrowing its policy to get rid of water charges from Sinn Féin.
She said “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and added: “Michéal Martin, as Dubs would say, we’re scarlet for you."
Mr Adams also took a swipe at Independent TDs involved in government formation talks.
He said that people thought they were voting for an alternative when they supported Independents.
“Some of these TDs now stand with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. How independent is that?,” he asked.
On the Centenary commemorations for the Rising, Mr Adams noted that a hundred years ago tonight “small groups of men and women were making their final preparations for the rising.”
He said that on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, they “took on the largest Empire in human history”.
He lashed out at what he described as “shameful revisionism” and attempts to “denigrate the heroes of 1916”.
He said revisionists say that Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond opposed violence and he was right on Home Rule, that James Connolly and Padraig Pearse were wrong and that the British would have granted Independence anyway.
Mr Adams said this was “nonsense” and he asked if Redmond and Unionist leader Edward Carson were not "men of violence" for encouraging Irish men to fight in World War I.
He said vision of the Proclamation has not been fulfilled saying: “no republic worthy of its name would tolerate partition, mass emigration, poverty and homelessness.”
He also said a “genuine Republic would not abide partition”.
Mr Adams went on to criticise Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil for what he claimed was their views on Ireland’s struggle for freedom.
He said Sinn Féin is “proud” of that struggle and argued that it includes the era of the Troubles in the North.
“We are not Fine Gael or Labour. We are proud of the men and women of 1916. We are not Fianna Fáil. We are equally proud of the men and women of the H Blocks and Armagh and of the 1981 hunger strikers and of the patriotic dead from our time.”
On Sinn Féin’s policy Mr Adams said that his party is committed to a public health service, the right to a home, repealing the Eighth Amendment and rural regeneration.
He claimed that “unlike the establishment parties, this party – Sinn Féin – will stick to our promises”.
Mr Adams said his party achieved a “historic result” in the general election despite what he claimed was “a tsunami of negative campaigning by our opponents and from sections of the media”.
He spoke of the upcoming Stormont Assembly elections saying his party is committed to bringing marriage equality to the North and to standing up for Irish language rights.
He said Sinn Féin will be campaigning for a strong vote against a ‘Brexit’ in the upcoming referendum on the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
He said border controls and economic barriers are “not in the interest of the people of this island”.
Mr Adams said “partition has not served any section of our people well” but that a peaceful and democratic route to Irish unity exists.
He said that a united Ireland will be inclusive and would recognise that it is the homeland of Unionists as well.