Eve after her death Margaret Thatcher figured at the Sinn Fein annual conference last weekend when a new addition to merchandise on sale were green-colored Thatcher t-shirts. Daubed across them were the words, in Irish: “I still hate Margaret Thatcher.”
Alongside the anti-Thatcher t-shirts were displays featuring each of the 10 IRA members who died during the hunger strikes while she was prime minister of Britain.
Gerry Adams, in his keynote address during his 30th year as party leader, was more interested at the conference in Castlebar, Co. Mayo in stepping up pressure to collapse the government.
Adams called on the Labor Party, the minority partner in the coalition, to leave the government. He evoked Labor’s founding fathers James Connolly and Jim Larkin, and said a real Labor Party with a principled leadership should not be administering power with Fine Gael.
“Stand by working people as Connolly and Larkin did,” Adams said. “Leave this government and leave it now.”
He attacked austerity and urged more work on the peace process. He said the Fine Gael/Labor coalition had failed the Irish people by implementing core values of austerity.
He told delegates that while the government was willing to cut child benefit, carer’s allowances, hospital services, schools and Garda (police) stations and home-help hours, it had no problem putting taxpayers money into the pockets of bankers and financiers which, he said, remained untouched despite creating the mess.
Adams made a fresh call for a referendum on Irish unity. He said that 15 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement it was important to have a border poll.
He claimed Loyalists and Unionists in disadvantaged communities had more in common with their Republican neighbors than they may have realized. Dialogue was essential, and he called on his supporters to build alliances on social and economic issues with “working class” Loyalists and Unionists, “challenging though it may b.”
“The Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist people are not going away. And Sinn Fein doesn’t want them to go away,” Adams added.