Following the Irish Water saga there is mounting speculation that Ireland might be heading to the polls in 2015. Writing for Slugger, Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams TD argues that it’s time for the Taoiseach to go the country and let the people decide the future economic direction of the country.
The Fine Gael/Labour coalition Government is in deep crisis.
As each day passes it is clearer that it will struggle to stay in office for its full term.
The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has stumbled from one debacle to another. His policies have been rejected and the Coalition faces widespread public anger.
The reasons are clear. Fine Gael and Labour have imposed relentless austerity on struggling families and vulnerable citizens.
They have failed to deliver on any commitment to political reform, accountability or parliamentary effectiveness.
Instead this Government has abused the Dáil, Seanad, State Boards and Ministerial positions to a degree that would make even Fianna Fáil blush!
In a number of recent high profile incidents in the Dáil, the Tánaiste has not answered straightforward questions from Mary Lou McDonald. The Taoiseach regularly does this with me.
The point of parliament is for the Opposition to hold Government to account. This does not happen in the Dáil. The Ceann Comhairle is continually deferential to Government Ministers and the Taoiseach.
This is another example of the urgent need for political reform but also of the overbearing arrogance of this Government.
Fine Gael and Labour can no longer hide behind the Troika for unpopular decisions. They can’t say that ‘the big boys made them do it’. These are their own decisions.
This Government mishandled the GSOC affair, and the whistle-blowers controversy, around Garda corruption culminating in the firing of Commissioner Martin Callinan, and the resignation of Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
In June Eamon Gilmore resigned as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tánaiste and as leader of the Labour Party in the wake of his party’s disastrous performance in last May’s EU and local elections.
Eamon got out just in time. Since the Summer, the Government has been plunged into yet another series of controversies. They include McNultygate and by-election defeats for the Government in Dublin South West and Roscommon/South Leitrim. The Government also lost its Seanad majority.
The budget was an opportunity to give people a break. Instead citizens got Water Charges, Property Tax, no help for carers, and a cut to the top rate of tax, rewarding a wealthy minority.
This Government’s Frankenstein creation – Irish Water, has been characterised by excessive spending on consultants, bonuses and cronyism.
Irish Water is now a toxic brand. It is time for the Government to reverse its unjust water policy and abolish water charges.
Sinn Féin has shown how a first class water service can be paid for by the State without penalising working people. In government we would stop Water Charges. That is what we did in the North.
Meanwhile, political talks in the North are underway but there is no evidence yet of the type of credible negotiations required to unlock the impasse.
Sinn Féin’s priority is to defend and progress the hugely significant political advances made over the past 20 years.
We will prioritise the full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements. The Governments needs to do the same. The British and Irish Governments are failing to fulfil their obligations. But there can be no turning back of the clock. Unionist political leaders pursuing that objective are simply deluded.
It is of crucial importance however that the Irish Government adopts an unambiguous pro-Agreement position and holds the British Government to account in relation to its obligations
It should work with Sinn Fein as partners in peace-making instead of seeing us only as electoral rivals. The peace process is more important than party politics.
Politics across the island is in flux. The Fine Gael/Labour Government is now deeply conscious and fearful of the growing public mood in the South for radical political change.
In this atmosphere and in an effort to stem rising public support for Sinn Féin it is clear that Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil will employ any dirty trick, lie, or disgusting allegation.
This mud-slinging by our political opponents is a sign of political desperation. It is about trying to blunt the growth of Sinn Féin. It will not succeed. The people are not stupid.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, has proposed the establishment – through the North South Ministerial Council – of an all-island process to deal with support mechanisms for those who were victims of sexual abuse during the conflict.
The objective is to ensure greater access to counselling and other supports for victims and to facilitate victims and survivors in accessing the justice system and making official complaints.
This needs to be a priority cross-border initiative, under the remit of the Irish Government and Northern Executive.
Sinn Féin fully endorses the proposal by Martin McGuinness. The initiative should be fully resourced by the Executive and the Irish Government.
In recent days the Taoiseach and various Government spokespeople have suggested that the choice at the next election is between Fine Gael’s vision and that of Sinn Féin.
The fundamental ideological difference between Sinn Féin and this deeply unpopular government is that we believe in a real republic – a citizen-centred, rights-based society. That message is finding a deep resonance among citizens.
The support enjoyed by Fine Gael and Labour in 2011 has been eroded beyond the point where they no longer have a mandate for what they are doing.
The Taoiseach should now show the courage of his convictions by resigning, calling a General Election and letting the people decide.
This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.