Belfast Telegraph

UK and Ireland politicians share New Year messages

Politicians have been reflecting on the year that has passed and shared their thoughts on what 2015 might hold.

SINN FEIN

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said: "The Fine Gael/Labour coalition has lost its mandate and now clings to power, imposing policies that are alienating huge numbers of citizens, as it stumbles from one political crisis to another.

"May's Local and European election results were a clear message that the government needed to change political direction but they refused to listen.

"The over-riding theme of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition has been a deeply unfair economic policy.

"It has imposed destructive austerity measures on struggling families and vulnerable citizens. Its budgets have been among the most regressive in the state's history.

"The imposition of domestic water charges in the face of huge public opposition is the final straw for many.

"In the year ahead, Sinn Fein will continue to fight the water charges until they are scrapped.

"As we head into 2015, Irish society faces a choice between the failed politics of the conservative parties who have ruled the 26-County State since the 1920s – or a genuine republican alternative that offers the prospect of radical political change.

"In the North, the most vulnerable have been protected against Tory welfare and budget cuts. Progress has also been made with regard to the issues of flags, the past and parading.

“But much more needs to be done.

"The British and Irish Governments have failed to deliver on commitments such as a Bill of Rights, Acht na Gaeilge, and an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane and other matters.

"However, the Stormont House Agreement demonstrates that with the five main parties acting together, significant progress can be made to safeguard the most vulnerable and rebuild the reputation of the political institutions.

"As we look forward to a new year Sinn Fein will continue to work towards a United Ireland and a new republic which cherishes all identities and puts the interests of citizens first.

“For now, I wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year. Bliain úr faoi mhaise daoibh go léir.”

SDLP

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said: “It can be argued that 2014 was a waste of a year to deal with contentious issues that divide our society.

"Whilst people right across the North felt the tightening of their finances, politicians spent the run-in to Christmas talking about issues that should have been dealt with a year previously at the Haass/O’Sullivan talks.

“Therefore, we need to ensure that 2015 is a better year for victims and survivors, one where they will eventually receive the truth and justice many of them demand and deserve, and for those that don’t demand justice, we need to ensure they get the respect they deserve, and the acknowledgement that they suffered.

“The SDLP has made addressing the past a critical element of negotiations for years. 2015 must be about achieving that.

“Some progress has been made. The five parties working together during the Stormont House talks were part of the progress.

"We must now ensure that in 2015 that progress is not lost, and the 2015-16 budget and subsequent budgets protect the most vulnerable within our society.

“We will work with other parties in the Assembly and Executive to build on the progress that was made last year but will work to make better those elements that need strengthened.

“The big challenge facing us all in 2015 is to lay the foundations for the economic recovery that will meet the hopes and expectations of our young people and our many hard-working families right across Northern Ireland. Addressing the past will start that progress.

“I urge all interested parties to redouble their efforts to ensure that significant economic advance is clearly visible in 2015.”

NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY OF STATE

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: "I hope this is a year of renewed confidence for Northern Ireland: a year when politics works, the economy continues to grow and society gets stronger and more united, a place where through hard work and commitment, everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.

"While there are significant challenges ahead, NI's politicians showed real leadership and determination in negotiating the SH Agreement.

"As a result, new opportunities await us in 2015 which I hope are grasped.

"As we look ahead to 2015, I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year."

Compiled by Amanda Ferguson

 

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