Sinn Fein leader to speak in Aus. on ‘uniting Ireland’
Martin Ferris, a TD (MP) from Irish republican party Sinn Fein, will address audiences in Australia in late July on the ongoing struggle for Irish reunification and independence.
Ferris will address audiences in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney on the topic of “Uniting Ireland”.
The tour is part of an international campaign by Sinn Fein to gather support for ending British rule over the six counties in Ireland's north.
Ferris, a former Irish Republican Army volunteer and political prisoner who has been active in the Irish republican movement since 1970, said: “For centuries Britain's involvement in Ireland has been the source of conflict, partition, discord and division.
“The Irish peace process has delivered an end to conflict and that is to be welcomed. But the underlying cause of conflict persists the British government's claim of jurisdiction over a part of Ireland.
“It is this denial of the Irish people's right to self-determination, freedom and independence that is the core outstanding issue that must be resolved.”
Ferris was part of the Sinn Fein negotiating team in the lead-up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998.
He will speak on the progress and challenges of the ongoing peace process in the six counties, and the implementation of the GFA and subsequent international agreements.
Elected to the Dail (Dublin-based parliament) in 2002, Ferris is the Sinn Fein spokesperson on workers’ rights.
Ferris will discuss the impact of the economic crisis across Ireland, which has caused soaring unemployment and emigration, and the mass opposition to the Irish government’s austerity measures and International Monetary Fund/European Union “bailout”.
In the February elections to the Dail, Sinn Fein campaigned against the austerity measures and increased its number of seats from five to 14.
Ferris will also discuss the legacy of the 1981 hunger strikes. Ten republican prisoners died on hunger strike demanding political status in Belfast-based Long Kesh prison.
The hunger strikes, and the callous way the British government allowed 10 men to die, led to huge protests in Ireland and around the world. The events caused profound and long-lasting changes in Irish politics.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the hunger strike and events are being held all over the world to commemorate their deaths.
Ferris said: “The Irish diaspora and supporters have a very important role to play in the ongoing struggle for Irish reunification and independence.
“In the construction of the peace process, the progress we achieved would not have been possible without that support, especially in Britain, the US, Australia and Canada.
“Sinn Fein has organised a series of conferences and meetings on the topic of Irish unity in Ireland, Britain, the US and Canada over the past two years in order to start a conversation about achieving these goals.
“We are glad to be bringing similar events to Australia this year and hope it lays the basis for future engagement with the Irish community and supporters of Irish self-determination here in Australia.”
The speaking tour is being organised by Friends of Sinn Fein Australia and the Casement Group Melbourne.
Details of meetings with Ferris
* PERTH: Wednesday July 27, 7.30pm. Irish Club, 61 Townshend Rd, Subiaco. $5 entry - tickets at door.
* SYDNEY: Thursday July 28, 7.30pm. Maritime Union of Australia office, 365 Sussex Street. $5 entry - tickets at door.
* MELBOURNE: Saturday July 30, 7.30pm. Celtic Club, 316-320 Queen Street. Supper and entertainment. $40 entry. Tickets available at door. Ph John 0407 863 291.
For more information, phone Emma on 0450 835 189.
Martin Ferris addressing the Dail (Irish parliament) on the government's anti-poor Universal Social Charge.