Sinn Fein is campaigning for a “positive” no vote in the upcoming Stability Treaty. Party President Gerry Adams TD, Deputy Martin Ferris and Senator Trevor ÓClochartaigh joined local TD Michael Colreavy and Leitrim representatives in Leitrim and Roscommon last week.
The group met with a number of different sectors in the county last week as part of Sinn Féin’s Defend Rural Ireland Initiative before their public consultation meeting, which over 250 people attended in The Landmark Hotel that night.
The group were in Dromahair, Drumkeerin, Mohill as well as Ballyfarnon and Boyle. They touched on issues such as the arts, ghost estates, education and childcare, youth services, small businesses, farming, turfcutting, fracking and mass emigration from local GAA clubs and sporting activities.
Gerry Adams told the Leitrim Observer that the people of this county “know all about austerity.” The list of charges, taxes and cut backs are extensive on top of unemployment, rising costs and mass emigration. Adams said Sinn Fein are not against the EU and this treaty is not about our membership or the euro currency, it is about our economic future and the power we have over it.
Despite the bad decisions and legacy of previous governments in relation to our economy, Adams said “at least we can sack them, or re-elect” but this treaty “will take away our power over our own economy and the new administrators will not be answerable to the Irish people.” He said there is a fear that Ireland won’t have access to a further bail out, but Sinn Fein says the money is there.
The Sinn Fein President said the next two budgets are “set” with the Troika and we can’t be punished for voting no in the treaty. He said we cannot afford the fiscal impact of this treaty and said the tide is changing across Europe, this treaty may even be extinct by the time we head to the ballot.
Adams says we have the money here to “kick start the country” and get it working in the National Pension Reserves and in the EU investment Bank. He said this treaty is “the wrong direction” and we need to guide our Government and Europe to a different approach. Adams said the people of Leitrim need to vote in this referendum “there is no point in getting angry watching TV!”
Speaking to the large crowd at the meeting, Adams said “Leitrim has withstood famine, war, civil war, economic war, partition and has the smallest population – now is the time to have your say.” He said “Austerity isn’t working.” He said cutting home help hours, closing nursing home beds, and cutting educational resources are “petty.” He said half a million households said no to the household charge earlier this year and “this is your second chance to say no.”
“It is positive to say no to something bad.” Adams went on to say people in Europe had voted no against austerity in Britain, Greece and France, now it is our turn.
Kerry Deputy Martin Ferris made a very passionate speech to vote no. He congratulated the people of this area for cutting turf and standing up to the “bully boys” in Europe. He spoke about the injustice of the household charge of the impending septic tank charge, water charges and the local fracking issue.
He called for people to “fight back” against austerity. He said “enough is enough” and first step against austerity is on May 31. He asked people to “exercise their rights” to vote no.
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said “we are voting for Europe” in refusing this treaty. If the treaty is ratified he said not only could we be sanctioned for our mistakes, but other EU countries will be able to challenge our economic policies and we could be fined up to €160m for not keeping up the bargain – money we don’t have in the first place! He said this is a “binding and permanent” treaty.
Cllr Martin Kenny spoke about confidence, in ourselves and in our economy, and said austerity is not helping either. He said we “need a new approach and a new future.” He said the EU needs to serve it’s people instead of “markets.” “The first step to the Irish people getting some confidence about the future is having the confidence now, in spite of all the threats, to Vote NO to the downward spiral austerity is taking us,” he stated.
A Ballinaglera emigrant asked about the lack of Sinn Fein No posters. He was told there will be more posters as Sinn Fein moves with the campaign and Sinn Fein are the only party to send leaflets to every house seeking a no vote. An IFA member told the crowd he was happy to hear of a group called Farmers Vote No. He called the IFA “spineless and toothless” who only represent “big farmers.” He said they won’t come out against the treaty as they are afraid of a property and land tax. A Boyle man said “we need to break the fear of Government and Europe – the Government should be afraid of it’s people.”
Sinn Féin is inviting submissions that will go toward forming a comprehensive plan for the future of Rural Ireland.