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Sinn Féin wants Mary Lou to be Taoiseach and people to not 'throw around' the Irish flag

Delegates at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis have also voted against inviting any royals to 1916 centenary events.
Mar 6th 2015, 9:35 PM 35,925 201

Updated: 21.35

SEVERAL DELEGATES HAVE taken to the stage at the Millennium Forum in Derry as the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis kicks off this evening.

They spoke about various topics, including their opposition to water charges, unhappiness with the Irish government and how the union with Britain causes nothing but “misery, poverty and austerity”.

Anti Water Charges Campaigns Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

One speaker in particular captured the audience’s attention with his Rip Van Winkle-inspired predictions for 2018. He said Gerry Adams will be President of Ireland and Martin McGuinness will be First Minister in Northern Ireland.

So, what else does he think will happen?

This one got a big cheer:

Until the crowd heard his prediction that Mary Lou McDonald will be the first woman Taoiseach. They got VERY excited.

The year might be off, but he could be right with some of those, at some stage.

US donations

Before this, Adams, McDonald and McGuinness addressed the media.

Discussing the financial support given to the party by US donors, Adams said Sinn Féin wouldn’t be getting this money if its policies were bad for business.

He said he regularly meets with companies from Ireland, the UK and America.

“Scrutiny of our transparent accounts show above and beyond anybody else that Sinn Féin enjoys the support of the Irish diaspora in the US of America.

We’re very good for business, we’re very pro-business … We can’t be getting support from US businesses on the one hand and then be bad for business on the other. That’s an oxymoron.

Adams refused to be drawn on which way he will vote on the abortion motions due to be debated tomorrow.

However, he did note it’s “a very necessary” discussion.

McGuinness added that when people go through “traumatic experiences” such as fatal foetal abnormalities, “political parties have a duty and a responsibility to deal with those situations”.

Peace process

In his key note address, McGuinness spoke of the “very, very perilous situation” the Good Friday agreement found itself in in recent years, before the Stormont House Agreement.

“For almost two years the political institutions in the north stagnated. The trigger for this was, in my opinion, the democratic decision by Belfast City council to fly the union flag only on designated days and the refusal of unionism to accept the decision of the parades commission in relation to Ardoyne,” McGuinness said.

The result was thuggery as crowds of angry loyalists came onto the streets.

“So-called republicans also remain intent on dragging us back to the past. But their campaign – if you can call it that – is not only futile and without support – it is counter-productive because the only time I see a British soldier on the streets these days is in response to their activities.”

McGuinness got several cheers during his wide-ranging speech, in which he said people should take note of the success of Sinn Féin in government in the north.

All of the cheers were not reserved for the north’s deputy first minister, however.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy got plenty of claps when he said he couldn’t see any circumstances under which Sinn Féin would support a British monarch attending 1916 centenary events.

This led Carthy to joke about quitting while he was ahead:

Unsurprisingly, delegates later voted that no member of the British royal family or British government should be invited to any state commemorations in 2016.

The Midlands North West MEP went on to say that division of north and south doesn’t make economic sense.

The poverty and inequality that is a scar on our nation, the instability in economic growth, the flow of our brightest and best out of Ireland – these are not recent illustrations of injustice.

“These are but a few examples of the how both British and Irish governments have failed Ireland for generation after generation.”

Carthy said the alternative to partition is “to take all of Ireland’s future into Ireland’s hands”.

To stand against the tides of recession, the austerity of London, the austerity of Dublin and the reactionary policies of our opponents.

“Irish unity can deliver a successful, fair and equal Ireland and Sinn Féin can deliver Irish unity.”

Burn of the night

Doherty delivered the burn of the night when encouraging delegates to vote in favour of this motion whereby Sinn Féin would refuse to join a Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil-led government. They did, by the way.

Screenshot 2015-03-06 at 21.32.41

“We have no interest in propping up failed parties for the benefit of ministerial position. That is what the Labour party is for,” Doherty said.

Respecting the flag

There was one motion, about ensuring the Irish flag is not “thrown around” by party members, that had to be voted on THREE times before any clarity was reached.

Screenshot 2015-03-06 at 21.32.54

Eventually it was passed by 94 votes to 60.

Originally published: 18.58

Follow @orlaryan and @TJ_Politics for updates  from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Derry this weekend.

Read: Is Sinn Féin ready for power?

Related: No more ‘throwing around’ our national flag, Sinn Féin TDs told

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Órla Ryan

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