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Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 29 September 2020

Gerry Adams - people are more concerned with water charges than my arrest

The Sinn Féin leader stated: “An arrest should not be taken as any indication of guilt.”

Today's launch
Today's launch
Image: Sam Boal

GERRY ADAMS HAS said his recent arrest in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1971 has “galvanised” Sinn Féin’s election team.

Adams admitted he didn’t know if the incident would adversely affect the party’s candidates in this month’s local and European elections.

“We don’t know, that’s the short answer. It has galvanised our party workers. It has galvanised our election team. I’ve found a very warm welcome when I’ve been out and about canvassing.”

An arrest should not be taken as any indication of guilt.

Adams said that voters had more pressing issues on their mind other than his arrest, given the fact he was released “the day before this new water tax was brought in”.

Liadh Ní Riada, the party’s candidate in Ireland South, said she did not want to “belittle or demean Jean McConville in any sense” but noted that people are more concerned with the reality of “not being able to put food on the table” than they are with Adams’s arrest.

Speaking at the party’s European election launch in Dublin this afternoon, Adams said he hoped Sinn Féin would retain four MEP seats, but added he was taking “nothing for granted”.

This is the first opportunity people have had since the last election [to vote] … since a bit of a wobble in the peace process. Those are two big incentives, we would like to think, for people to come out and vote.

“You never know, until the count begins, how well you have done. We’ll know on the 24th and the 25th. Then that’s when the real work will begin,” he added.

The party are fielding 350 candidates in the European and local elections, their largest ever number.

Trust in Europe

Speaking at the launch, Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó’Broin said that “trust in EU institutions and EU leaders has fallen to a all-time low”, noting that more than 26 million people in the Union are unemployed while almost one in four families are living at risk of poverty.

The party’s European manifesto, ‘Putting Ireland First’, looks at a number of issues including job creation, a deal on legacy debt, distribuion of the Common Agricultural Policy, reinforcing Ireland’s neutrality and reducing the power of the European Commission by returning certain powers to member states.

Lynn Boylan, who is running in Dublin, said the government has failed to access “vital funds” from the European Investment Bank, noting they have drawn down less funding per capita than countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and Cyprus.

She said this money could have been used to invest in tackling youth unemployment and protecting workers.

Ní Riada said that middle and low-income families had been “saddled with over €60 billion of banking debt” to “pay for the greed and incompetence of the bankers, the developers and their political friends”.

People want their money back. We need a deal on legacy debt and we need to revisit the promissory notes.

Matt Carthy is running for the party in Midlands North West, while Martina Anderson is running in Northern Ireland.

Election tactics

The party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said that Labour is hearing “very loudly” the anger felt by the public while canvassing.

The very section of society the Labour party promised to protect are the very section they have let down.

McDonald claimed that Labour’s “insistence” on standing by Justice Minister’s Alan Shatter before his resignation last week “has played very, very badly with people who would have been supporters of the Labour party”.

She said recent hints at tax cuts in upcoming budgets were just a “tactic in the course of this election campaign”.

McDonald added that the EU was too involved in deciding Ireland’s budgets. ”The track that were on in terms of European supervision – and what we would regard as interference – in the Irish budgertary process … is very, very dangerous.”

Related: Gerry Adams makes formal complaint about Antrim police interrogation

Read: ‘MEPs are talking out of both sides of their mouths’: Sinn Féin hopeful hits out at Hayes and Costello

Read: ‘Current MEPs? Hardworking, but failures’ – Matt Carthy runs for Europe 

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Órla Ryan

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