Ireland is in deep economic trouble. Incompetent government, corrupt bankers and greedy developers have brought this state to the edge of an economic abyss.
In the blink of an eye we have gone from boom to bust. The years of budget surpluses have been squandered. Those who claimed that they, and they alone, knew how to run the economy have been exposed for the fraudsters that they are.
Sinn Féin was berated when we pointed out the obvious flaws in government policy – the creation of a property bubble, the over reliance on consumption taxes, the growing gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, the rewarding of private greed at the expense of the public good, the failure to think strategically and in the long term interests of the citizens.
We were right on these matters.
There is a way forward.
We can build a country and an economy that creates wealth and shares wealth, that is based on enterprising excellence and social solidarity. A country defined by Irish values of decency, fair play and celebration of achievement.
We can do this because that is who we are. That is what we are about, that is what our economy must be about. We need a plan to achieve this. We need leadership and Sinn Féin can offer it.
The government cannot simply tax or cut its way out of this crisis.
Our number one priority at this time is to get Ireland back to work. The time for action is now.Targets for job creation must be set and met.
All of those involved in job creation and training – statutory agencies, unions, employers and educationalists - must come together to plot the job creation pathway. We need speedy and deliberate targeting of those sectors where growth is possible – sectors like agri-food, research and development and green technology.
We need to build the skill base to create and fill new jobs. We need to build the critical infrastructure, schools and houses, public transport and Information Technology.
Business start ups must be supported by creating one stop enterprise business points offering advice, funding and expertise to entrepreneurs.
An aggressive export Ireland strategy is urgently required. This is an area of huge potential. Currently 90% of exports from this state are from foreign owned multinationals. Irish enterprises must develop their export capacity. Government policy must drive this.
We must fight to save existing jobs under threat. Workers and their families deserve no less. Economic recovery demands no less.
Jobs can be saved. The jobs on the line at SR Technics can be saved. Jobs in construction and retail can be saved. Waterford Crystal can have a future. These and other vulnerable jobs will be lost if the current lacklustre approach by government continues.
Sinn Féin would not meekly accept the ongoing haemorrhage of skills and global brands from our country. The government needs to get its act together.
Recovery will not be possible unless we sort out the banks. This requires forthright, decisive actions.
This is what needs to happen:
- Mispaid bonuses and overblown salaries must be retrieved, there must be a cap on salaries of banking executives and an immediate abolition of their bonuses.
- We need to know the extent of the banks bad debts. The time for speculation as to the state of the banks balance sheets is over.
- We need to have the truth. An independent inspector must, on behalf of the taxpayer, establish their liabilities.
- We need a new, robust financial regulatory system.
These actions are required immediately if we are to restore domestic and international confidence in financial institutions. The banks are now reliant on taxpayers’ money. The banks must now be forced to impose a moratorium on home repossessions for a minimum of two years.
Banks must support struggling mortgage holders - by rescheduling repayments and allowing movement from fixed to variable rates without financial penalties. Banks must be obliged to make loans available to small and medium businesses. Viable businesses and jobs will be lost if the credit drought is not resolved quickly. We cannot allow enterprise and workers to suffer at the hands of self centred and self seeking banking practices.
The banks must pay back the taxpayers money while working in the state’s interest. The need for a state bank, long advocated by Sinn Fein, is now undeniable.
Then we must deal with the shortfall in public finances.
Saving must and can be made in a way that is equitable and does not injure our long term goal of a sustainable economy. Sinn Féin set out proposals for raising the €2billion which the government is now implementing through totally unfair cuts. We argued that the government should introduce a new 48% rate of tax on earnings in excess of €100,000 a year, make discretionary tax relief available only at the standard rate and remove the PRSI ceiling.
These proposals involve some pain, but are equitable and fair.
We also called for the end to the misuse of taxpayers money in supporting private healthcare and the outrageous pay packages of CEOs of public bodies.
This state will have to borrow over the next five years. This is the right thing, and the necessary thing, to do. But it must be for smart, strategic investment. The days of shoddy management, sloppy costings and project overruns are over.
All of this must happen but the establishment of a fair and progressive taxation system is at the core of sustainable public finances. Sinn Féin has long demanded reform – the ending of tax shelters and tax exile status, the ending of the scandal where middle income workers are taxed at the same rate as those earning hundreds of thousands of euros. We are calling for the creation of a third tax rate for these high earners.
Never was tax reform more urgent than now. Never was it more necessary for the rich to pay their share. We must regain our competitiveness.
The costs of doing business in Ireland is prohibitive. Misguided government policy has driven Energy costs higher here than anywhere else in Europe and has resulted in a telecommunications infrastructure that is third rate.
Government must act now to address these issues. Competitiveness will not be secured on the back of cheap, insecure labour. Families on the breadline is not the answer to our problems, reductions in the minimum wage or running down protections for workers is not the solution.
Investment in skills and education will be the cornerstone of realising our potential. The short-sighted cuts in education, at all levels, must be reversed. There will be no knowledge economy, no ‘smart economy’, if we allow government to vandalise our education system
This is the time to build the All Ireland economy. Partition is costing Ireland hundreds of millions of euros each year. The simple fact is we cannot afford the border.
Currency differentials and VAT rate differentials hurt business and the consumer. We need VAT harmonisation, tax harmonisation and nurture a dynamic all Ireland economy.
Now is the time for transformation, for government with the bold ideas and courage to create a fair and prosperous society. We need to get Ireland back to work. This requires long term strategy, of solidarity and vision.
Download a PDF of Sinn Féin's Emergency Budget Submission 2009. At a press conference in Dublin Sinn Féin set out the details of the party’s submission to the government to address the shortfall in public finances. The party’s proposals would protect those on low-to-middle incomes and those on social welfare… Read more
Download a PDF of Sinn Féin's Job Retention and Creation Strategy. This document ‘Getting Ireland Back to Work’ contains more than 80 proposals, which Sinn Féin believes are urgently required. It sets out specific measures for: Job retention Job creation All-Ireland economic development Stimulating consumer spending Education and training Read more
Inspired by the vision of 1916 revolutionary and trade union leader James Connolly, Sinn Féin is committed to building a united democratic and socialist republic – an Ireland of Equals. Over the last century the struggle of labour has been a distinct and integral strand within Irish republicanism. The defence… Read more