Hungry for change, not for office

Posted: December 24, 2014 in Elections, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Government, Politics, Sinn Féin

One thing is clear from recent elections and opinion polls. The cosy consensus of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael no longer commands the support of the majority of people.

After 90 years of corrupt and incompetent Governments, a growing number of people have clearly had enough. They want change.

But voters are also distrustful of the political system. Having been badly burnt by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour they are not sure who to trust.

The next general election has the potential to transform the southern Irish political system. It could herald a realignment of our politics.

But only if voters are offered a real choice by a party that is serious about breaking the mould.

Sinn Féin is not hungry for office. We are hungry for change. We want to be in government – but only if being there allows us to play a part in transforming the social, economic and political life of the island.

While others are preoccupied with the issue of coalition, Sinn Féin are busy developing our vision for a better, fairer Ireland.

For those of us serious about change the first question is not who you would go into government with, but what you intend to do when you get there.

Sinn Féin believes in the need for a strong, active and fiscally responsible state willing to invest in jobs and services.

We want to build a courageous state ready to challenge EU rules and corporate misbehaviour when they hurt our plans for an equitable recovery.

Our party passionately believes in the need for radical reform of our tax system to make it fair while raising the necessary revenue to invest jobs and services.

We are committed to abolishing the property tax and water charges, introducing a wealth tax and a third rate of income tax and investing in social and economic recovery for all.

We are serious about removing the odious banking debt from the shoulders of the people and placing it back where it belongs.

Unlike others we remain committed to the objectives of full employment, universal public services and the eradication of poverty and gross inequality

We understand the need to mainstream environmental sustainability and all Ireland integration into every aspect of social and economic policy.

We want a Government that stands up for the rights of Irish citizens, assertively pushing for the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement rather than the current approach of Dublin continually capitulating to the demands of the Tories in London.

We want a fairer Ireland in which every single person has the opportunity and resources to live a bigger, better life.

In the run up to the general election we will publish detailed, costed and credible plans outlining how we would create a better, fairer Ireland. We will demonstrate that we are not a party of slogans but of real possibilities.

And we will be honest with people. Some changes can be made within a year, others will take a full Dáil term, others longer still.

Sinn Féin will also outline our strategy in relation to coalition well in advance of polling day.

In November Gerry Adams kick started a debate within the party on the issue.

In a key note address to activists in the Red Cow Hotel he said that, ‘Sinn Fein will not enter government merely to give cover to the agenda of conservative parties.’

He said that, ‘it is time for a realignment of Irish politics’ and called on those who wanted an alternative to the politics of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to work together.

For this activist the kind of change Sinn Féin wants to deliver would not be possible in a government led by Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

Real change requires a new type of Government.

Sinn Féin should make it clear that we want to lead that new Government. That we will not participate in any coalition led by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. That we are nobody’s mudguard.

If the people entrust us with a mandate that allows us to determine the content and direction of a new Government as the lead partner, then and only then should we negotiate with others to form a government.

Our party political system has run its course. It is ripe for change. There has never been a better time to break the Fianna Fail-Fine Gael stranglehold on power.

The next general election could be a game changer, it could open the way for a New Republic, but that will depend in large part on the words and actions of those of us who believe we have something better to offer.

This article originally appeared in the Sunday Business Post on December 21st 2014.

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