Nenagh-based Sinn Fein councillor Seamus Morris used his Easter Rising commemoration speech in the town to criticise Labour councillors on North Tipperary County Council for their support of the Government’s Gateway jobs creation programme.
He also criticised the threat to local communites caused by the closure of rural Garda stations, post offices, social welfare offices and the council’s local area offices after this May’s local elections.
He told a crowd of about 30 people at the party’s annual gatering in Banba Square in Nenagh that the Gateway strategy was to “humiliate people into slave labour schemes”, which was “so stoutly defended by Labour councillors O’Dowd and Meaney when I brought in a motion against it recently”. He claimed Gateway was being brought in to the detriment of temporary council workers.
As part of the commemoration, Jane McLoughlin read out the IRA role of honour while wreaths were laid at the monument those those who died in the cause of Irish freedom. Men wearing dark glasses stood by the flags of Na Fianna Eireann and the Tricolour during the ceremony.
Cllr Morris said that this was the 98th anniversary of the Easter Rising and Sinn Féin remained committed to the realisation of the vision of 1916 and the implementation of the principles of the Proclamation.
“We need to build Sinn Fein membership, support and political strength so that we can achieve a real republic on this island,” he said.
Refering to the peace process, he said while the North in particular had been transformed for the better in recent years, the scourge of sectarianism remained but republicans were committed to a genuine process of national reconciliation
In relation to President Michael D Higgins’s successful visit to Britain this month, he said: “A confident and cohesive Sinn Fein leadership decided that republican representatives should participate fully in the Irish President’s state visit to Britain. Our party leadership took this decision in the context of republican objectives, and as an initiative to further strengthen the process of change started by the Irish Peace Process, and to advance the aim of national reconciliation. These events represent another contribution by Irish republicans to the continuing change in Ireland and between the island of Ireland, and Britain.”
He continued: “However, the real potential of the important and symbolic gestures from President Higgins’s visit will only be realised if the opportunity is taken by the Irish and British governments to build upon peace and political processes. That means implementing all outstanding elements of the Good Friday and other agreements; and consolidating the power sharing and all Ireland political institutions. Republicans are absolutely committed to reconciliation but for this to happen, unionist leaders must also play their part.”
Cllr Morris accused the Irish Government of “helping to create a vacuum where dissadent republicans and loyalist extremists are ready to ply their trade by sitting on their hands since they came to power in terms of North / South bodies.”
On the economy, he said: “Sinn Féin wants to see the reconquest of Ireland by the people of Ireland — a real republic where the citizens and not vested interests — whether in politics, banking, the institutions of state or foreign governments— are in control. We believe that the wealth of Ireland belongs to the people of Ireland and that our natural resources should be exploited in the interests of Irish citizens not transnational corporations.
“The enforced austerity by the coalition in Dublin and the coalition in London is the antithesis of everything the Rising and Proclamation envisaged. To stand for the ideals of 1916, must mean standing against austerity, and standing up for the vulnerable, those unable to care for themselves, and the working poor, North and South. There is no middle way between the inequality driven by British and Irish conservatives and the egalitarian values of our Proclamation.
“The austerity project which is being inflicted on the Irish people by the Labour and Fine Gael Government has seen over 10,000 people go hungry daily in Tipperary, has seen 800,000 people living below the poverty line while those that were put in positions of trust in banks, charities and Government agenices walk away with scandalous payoffs and pensions,” he said.
Cllr Morris stated that rural Tipperary was “under siege from criminals as they ply their trade in areas vacated by closure of rural Garda stations. Rural Tipperary is losing its banks, post offices, social welfare offices, courts and now their area offices in the biggest attack of rural Tipperary by a Government determined to serve their masters in Europe. Our Local Government and local development companies that have served the people of Tipperary so well are also about to be destroyed by Labour and Fine Gael also.”
Commenting on the May local and European elections, he said elections had always provided a platform for advancing the republican cause.
“Sinn Féin is not interested in winning seats for the sake of it. We seek political office only in order to bring about change in our country and in the lives of our citizens,” he said.