Fifteen months ago people voted for change. They rejected the corrupt Fianna Fail government that ran our economy into the ground and handed our economic sovereignty to the EU and IMF.
Fine Gael and Labour swept into office promising a democratic revolution.
They told us they would renegotiate the Troika deal, invest in jobs and take radical measures to tackle the mortgage crisis.
Fifteen months on and the hopes of the vast majority of people in the state have been dashed by a litany of broken promises. Disappointment is turning into a quiet but determined anger.
The Government claim that the southern economy is turning a corner. They tell us that things are looking up. Yet every single social and economic indicator tells a very different story. In the last two quarters of 2011 GDP shrank, putting us officially back in recession. The domestic economy has never been out of recession.
Unemployment remains at 14% while 440,000 people are left languishing on the live register. Emigration continues to tear the heart out of families and communities with 1,500 people, mainly young, leaving every single week. The mortgage crisis continues to deepen with 115,000 households in serious distress. Behind each of these statistics lies the very real human experience of financial stress.
Families are being forced to make impossible decisions every single day. Do they miss a mortgage payment in order to have enough money to feed their children? Do the try and persuade their children to stay home and keep searching for work or encourage them to go abroad in search of a better life.
These are the human stories behind the Governments failed policies of austerity. Policies designed by Micheal Martins Fianna Fail and implemented by Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and Eamon Gilmore’s Labour.
I passionately believe there is a better way. While there are no quick fixes or easy answers to our economic crisis there are choices. Unfortunately the Government are making all the wrong ones.
Sinn Féin has a vision for a prosperous and equal Ireland. That vision is backed up by detailed, costed, and credible policies. Yes we want to reduce the deficit. Yes we want to reduce the debt. But we want to achieve these things in a way that creates jobs, grows the domestic economy and gives every single citizens the opportunity to live a bigger and better life.
Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour believe you can cut your way out of a recession. You can’t. You cannot starve yourself out of a famine. In our alternative budget proposals published last November we outlined our economic alternative strategy.
We identified €3bn of additional taxes to be raised in a fair and progressive manor – making those at the top take their fair share of the burden. We identified almost €1 billion of savings to be made by reducing waste and excessive pay in the public sector. And crucially we outlined plans for a major investment in jobs and families.
Getting people off the dole, back into work and back paying taxes is the single best way of addressing the states deficit and debt levels. It is also the only way to convince the sovereign bond markets to reduce interest rates and to return to ordinary lending again.
Later this year we will once again outline our budget alternatives. We will meet the Governments deficit reduction targets. But will do this in a way that that is pro-jobs, pro-growth and pro-equality.
For several years Sinn Féin has been to the forefront of the anti-austerity and pro-growth agenda. The arguments we have been making are now being made by Nobel Prize winning economists, newly elected presidents of European countries and organisations such as the OECD.
Austerity just isn’t working. The Fine Gael Labour government isn’t delivering. We need a new economic strategy. We need a new social and economic vision. We need investment in jobs, services and communities. Sinn Féin has that alternative and with your support we can rebuild our country and make it a prosperous and equal society for all.