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What Sinn Féin stands for

This page is intended to give an overview of Sinn Féin policy in key areas. All of these topics are covered extensively in policy documents available on the Sinn Féin website and through the Sinn Féin head office in Dublin.

1. Ireland United

Sinn Féin is a 32-County party striving for an end to partition on the island of Ireland and the establishment of a democratic socialist republic. The achievement of a United Ireland is within our reach and unity offers the best future for all the people of Ireland. In these harsh economic times, it is also the best way forward from a financial and social perspective.

90 years after partition, as communities divided by the border become increasingly reintegrated, there is a growing pull towards reunification.  As old allegiances change and people from loyalist backgrounds consider voting for a republican party because it best represents their social and economic interests, the potential for dialogue with those from the unionist community about their place in a united Ireland becomes possible.

Key Sinn Féin policies to bring about our goal of a united Ireland

  • A referendum on Irish unity. To be held simultaneously, North and South.
  • Northern representation in the Dáil. The existing 18 Westminster MPs to automatically be accorded membership of the Dáil, with consultative and speaking rights.
  • Voting rights in presidential elections to be extended to citizens in the Six Counties.
  • The integration of public services and infrastructure on an all Ireland basis, enabling people to access services such as health and education nearest to them, regardless of which side of the border they are on.
  • Negotiate the transfer of fiscal powers from Westminster to the north.
  • Coordinate economic planning on an all-Ireland basis. Harmonise taxation policy north and south.

2. Economy

Sinn Féin believes people should be put at the heart of an economy. An economy should serve society, not the other way round. We believe a successful economy redistributes wealth via the tax and welfare systems. It sees employment, education and training as a right. And it takes into account all the activity that is not currently measured by modern economies, such as housework, child rearing, caring and volunteering.

Detailed, intensive economic policy is available on the Sinn Féin website in various pre-budget submissions, alternative economic papers and job creation documents. Our position on bank bondholders (restructure banking debts) are reiterated across the Sinn Féin website.

The following are the key Sinn Féin economic policies

  • Economies should be ran counter-cyclical. Governments’ should save in the good times (booms) so they can spend in the bad (recessions). We oppose moves from Europe to constitutionally limit national budgets, as this is a fiscal determinant that should be available to sovereign decision-makers.
  • The tax and social welfare systems should be redistributive. Income taxes should be fair and progressive. Governments should not rely on indirect flat taxes like consumption taxes. Welfare should be protected government spending and should be based on achieving a decent living standard for recipients while offering support to assist people re-entering the workforce.
  • The state should provide essential services to the economy (nationalised/state services). There should be a state bank, a state insurance company, state fuel company, state IT company (telephone/broadband etc), state health system, state transport and state schools & universities. Sinn Féin does support private enterprise as being essential to an economy, but we also recognise the hugely important part the state has to play in economic success.
  • We caution against a reliance on foreign direct investment over the growth of indigenous (homegrown) industry. We're not an 'isolationist' party. We recognise the importance of trade and investment. However we do dispute the reliance of the 26-County economy in particular on foreign direct investment to create jobs. The indigenous sector has at times seen its support sacrificed to appease multinational companies based here. We want to redress this imbalance.
  • We support the protection of wages and income. We do not believe in a race-to-the-bottom to improve Ireland's 'competitiveness'. We have strong policies on workers' rights. Workers are the heart of an economy and should be treated as such, not just as a means to a profit. We believe in absolute entitlement to join a trade union and collectively bargain. Sinn Féin policy on workers rights is based on the republican concept of equality as outlined in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme.
  • We support the establishment of a 'high-pay' commission, which would ensure the gap between the highest and lower earners in a society did not exceed a specific rate.

3. Accountability in governance

We believe in accountable government. We oppose the politics of cronyism, sectarianism and exclusion which has been at the heart of political culture North and South in the past and the present. For too long connections to those in government have allowed certain groups and individuals to enjoy positions of privilege. For too long also the political strength of republican and nationalist parties have been ignored in unionist dominated councils. 

Sinn Féin is clear where we stand and whose interest we stand for. Sinn Féin will smash the golden circles that have for too long been nurtured and protected by the establishment on this island. We need to ensure that there are adequate systems of protection of minorities rights and checks and balances built into the states governance arrangements.  We propose absolute accountability and transparency in government and a reform of the electoral system to make it more democratic.

Key policies

  • Cap public sector pay at realistic rates.
  • End political appointments to state boards
  • Crack down on white collar crime, strengthen laws and give the justice system the necessary resources and legislation to target corporate criminals
  • Change the law to allow for the impeachment, or removal from the Dáil, of any TD involved in corruption, deliberate misuse of public money or fraud.
  • Abolish the Seanad in its current form.
  • Reform the electoral system including a reduction in the voting age to 16.  
  • Break up media monopolies to ensure no one media mogul enjoys undue influence over public policy.
  • Sack those in charge of state bodies where they act against the public interest.

4. Agriculture and Fisheries

Agriculture and Fisheries are part of the main indigenous economic sector of food production. As such they are essential not only for ensuring food security for this country, but as inputs into food production both for domestic use and as a part of a huge export sector. Republican policy towards these sectors is based on the importance of retaining sovereignty and ensuring that the benefits of food production go both to the primary producers and the Irish population as a whole.

We have also conducted detailed policy research and produced reports illustrating how the agri food and fisheries sector could provide an engine of development and growth for the future even at a time of economic downturn. However, for that to take place it is essential that we have a radical new strategy based on recovering control over the food sector and lessening the amount of bureaucratic control by Brussels. We would also encourage farmers and fishermen to return to co-operative forms of processing and marketing as a means to ensure a fairer return to producers.

Sinn Féin is committed to:

  • Reforming the CAP in the interests of income security for small to medium farmers
  • Using indigenous resources and expertise to grow the agri food sector
  • Moving towards higher value production for export
  • Reform of the Common Fisheries Programme to ensure a fairer allocation of quota to Irish fishermen and greater domestic control over the Irish fishery
  • Ending punitive measures aimed at Irish fishermen                                             

5. Education

Sinn Féin believes that education is a basic and fundamental human right. Education should be universally available as of right and assist everyone, without exception to develop his or her potential. Free education in the 26-County state is little more than a fantasy. Research carried out by Bank of Ireland Life shows that the cost of sending a child to school, from primary up to third level costs around €70,000. Schools across the state struggle to stay afloat and are relying more and more on donations from hard-pressed parents.

Sinn Féin's vision for education differs greatly from the two-tier unequal model created by successive right-wing governments. We want a system where equality of opportunity, access and provision is a basic requirement, where no parent is forced to pay for their child to obtain an education. Where the ability for learners to achieve their full potential by having access to those levels of curriculum, those institutions and that type of teaching learning best fitted to deliver such success is a fundamental right. Individuals should be able to do so at any age and any stage of their lives.

Key Policies

  • Spend at least 6% of GDP on education, in keeping with best international practice.
  • A return to free education.  End the system where schools are reliant on voluntary contributions from parents by raising the capitation grants to cover the real cost of running a school.
  • Ensure the construction of an adequate number of schools and universities and the training and employment of the teachers/lecturers needed in these educational centres.
  • Address poverty in the education system by expanding breakfast clubs, school meals and book lending in primary schools and provide adequate grants to third level students.
  • The provision of a sufficient number of language and special needs support teachers.
  • Place a new emphasis in the school curriculum at primary and secondary level on civic education, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and encouragement of voluntary activity across society.
  • No return to tuition fees for third level institutions.
  • An end to the 11+

6. Local Communities made safe

People have the right to feel safe in their homes and communities. Sinn Féin's approach to crime is that pre-emption and intervention are the best routes to prevention - that is, we believe tackling poverty, educational disadvantage and mental health issues etc are key to preventing crime at a later stage. However we also have detailed policies on tackling crime as it is committed, whether that is violent or white-collar crime.  

Key policies

  • Preventing a generation of crime. More resources for crime prevention, in particular investment in communities' social infrastructure, parenting support and programmes for children and young people at risk of becoming involved in anti-social and criminal behavior including juvenile diversion. Ensuring regulation and accountability of financial institutions, government and business.
  • Community policing and faster more efficient policing. A reduction in Garda response times and more gardai out on the beat through the civilization of clerical work currently done by trained gardai.
  • Saving prison places for violent offenders. In order to ensure that custodial places are available for dangerous offenders we initiate a move towards alternatives to custody for non-violent offences such as non-payment of fines.
  • Tackling the drugs issue through education, rehabilitation and strong sentences for offenders at the top of the drugs market.

7. Health

Sinn Féin believes healthcare is a right. It should be universally provided, free of charge and paid for through a progressive taxation system. It must meet the needs of all citizens and treat them all on a basis of equality. A successful health system has primary and preventative healthcare at its core.

Key policies

  • A new universal public health system for Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general fair and progressive taxation. In the 26 Counties this will mean an end to the HSE and to the 'two tier system' and will include comprehensive community-based primary health and social care services for all, including General Practitioner and dental services and an abolition of all prescription charges. As a stepping stone to a free universal healthcare system, medical cards to e immediately extended to all those earning on or below the minimum wage.
  • Less bureaucrats, more frontline health workers.  
  • An end to public subsidies for private healthcare. Particular to the 26 Counties. Invest all health funding in the public system, immediately end tax breaks for private hospitals and the land gift scheme, phase out public subsidisation of and ultimately replace the private system within an agreed timetable.
  • The delivery of an adequate number of hospitals, bed provision and trained healthcare workers. The use of defunct hotels as 'near hospital' accommodation for before and after procedures and for families of children who are in hospital.
  • An end to the over-centralisation of hospital facilities and a reversal of cutbacks in services at local hospitals.
  • The introduction of an air ambulance fleet.