SINN FÉIN leader Gerry Adams said he has a “duty” to Irish people to take a stand against the political consensus and lead the “fight-back” against bad economic policies, by standing for a seat in the Dáil.
Following the surprise announcement yesterday that he is to seek election in the Louth constituency, Mr Adams said it was a “big risk” and a “significant initiative” by Sinn Féin.
He asked: “How could I not take the risk? How could I stand back and not come forward and say to people: this is a way to sort these matters out. It is my duty.”
The major political move for the party was “a measure of our determination to provide a real alternative to the consensus for cuts being pushed by the other parties,” according to Mr Adams.
The 62-year-old intends to resign his Northern Assembly seat when a replacement is chosen this week and resign his seat in Westminster where Sinn Féin has an abstentionist policy, once the Taoiseach calls a general election.
He accepted that by leaving West Belfast he would be “moving out of the safest Sinn Féin seat in the planet”. But it’s a risk worth taking because if the people of Louth elect him to the Dáil ” they’ll be standing up for themselves and standing up for Ireland and standing up for all of Ireland.”
Mr Adams said he made his decision “after a lot of consideration” and “only because of the crisis in the country”.
Addressing supporters at a republican commemoration at Edentubber, Co Louth, yesterday, he said: “In the past I have asked people to step forward and to show leadership. I believe it is my duty at this critical time to step forward and do what I have asked of others.”
He added: “As the leader of Sinn Féin, I want to be part of the necessary fight-back against bad economic policies in both parts of this island and for a fair, decent and united society for all the people of Ireland.”
The decision follows the announcement last week that the party’s TD in Louth Arthur Morgan would step down at the next election. This will leave three empty seats in the constituency where Sinn Féin got 15% of first preferences in 2007.
Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk will not contest the election as he is automatically re-elected and the constituency is to gain an extra seat due to boundary changes that see it take in part of Meath. The other sitting TDs in Louth are Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern and Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd.
“A change of government without a change in policies will be worthless. A Fine Gael-led government, propped up by the Labour Party is not a real alternative. Fine Gael and Labour offer nothing substantially different from the current government.”
Sinn Féin can be the only effective opposition, he said.
He hit out at the Government for not allowing him to speak in the Dáil “despite a commitment during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations and subsequently by then taoiseach Bertie Ahern that he would introduce measures to allow speaking rights for MPs from the North.”
Although he risks his career if he fails to win the seat, Mr Adams said he is not contemplating defeat.
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