Pics: Martin Doheny
OVER gathered in Newpark Hotel to pay tribute to and to hear Uachtaran Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams speak on a United Ireland.
It was Gerry’s last trip to this constituency and his final address to the Carlow-Kilkenny faithful as Party Leader.
Liadh Ni Riada MEP spoke of the need for Special Designated Status for the Six Counties in a Brexit world.
“As we all know, what is referred to as a ‘hard border’ would have disastrous consequences for our entire island,” she said.
Deputy Kathleen Funchion introduced Gerry Adams. There was a rapturous standing ovation.
Kathleen said she had been a member of Sinn Féin since 2003 when she was in college.
“I was drawn to Sinn Féin as their policies and stand for a United Ireland were at one with my own beliefs and I was also inspired by the writings of Gerry Adams.”
Gerry said he had begun the day in Stormont at a meeting with Arlene Foster. He noted the very positive growth of Sinn Féin locally, from having no elected representatives in 2009 to having five councillors and a TD.
He stressed the need to change conditions in society and referred to the crisis in housing, hospital waiting lists, people on trolleys and the disadvantaged in our country.
“We should not have second class citizens,” he said. “This was not the society envisaged by those who signed the Proclamation.
“While Ireland is among the richest countries in the world we still have a health system based on profit and if you doubt that just recall how you can wait 18 months on a hospital waiting list but be treated in a few weeks if you go private.
“How you treat the most vulnerable marks your society,” he added.
On a United Ireland, Gerry said Sinn Féin had called for a referendum on Irish Unity.
He said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were just different sides of the same coin.
Sinn Féin had called for an All Party Committee to put in place ideas for a new and agreed Ireland but had failed to receive support.
Gerry also said they had built harmonious relationships with unionists and reminded that the 1916 Proclamation is as applicable today as it was when it was first presented.
He said Sinn Fein was prepared to go into government in the 26 counties on a Republican Programme and added that Sinn Fein wants to see a referendum on a United Ireland held within five years.
The Party Leader for almost 35 years concluded by encouraging all to give 100% and do their best.
“The people in the room are the real heroes and I thank you for your support.”
Mayor of Carlow, Councillor Jim Dean paid tribute to Gerry and to his fellow Carlow Councillor, Andy Gladney who was present even though he was still recovering from health issues.