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Ferris Accuses Cork Ministers of Failure Over Economy

16 April, 2009


In a hard hitting speech in Cork tonight, Sinn Féin Munster Spokesperson, Cllr Toiréasa Ferris put it to the three Cork Ministers that they have seriously failed the people who elected them and the people they govern. In government they are pursuing policies which seek to protect their friends in the golden circle by punitively taxing those both in and out of work and cutting essential services to the core.

Speaking at the meeting in the Victoria Hotel tonight on the theme of “Lets Get Ireland Working” Toiréasa Ferris said:

“Ireland cannot simply cut or tax its way out of recession. The fall out from the emergency budget will be serious and long term. Families will continue to see their household incomes slashed. Workers will continue to loose their jobs. It is a recipe for the creation of a black economy rather than a real economy. And for what – to pay for a massive slush fund which will ensure their friends in the golden circle, particularly those who invested in the banks, will be saved.

“What this economy needs is sustenance not further punishment. It needs policies which will seek to maintain the existing employment where possible and prepare the ground for new employment.

“Sinn Féin is the only political party that has set out substantial detailed proposals - 80 of them - to get Cork and the rest of the country back to work. Protecting jobs and creating new employment is the absolute priority for us.

“A comprehensive skills and education strategy can prepare workers to create and take up new employment - getting early school leavers back to education, investing in Community Employment and allowing unemployed workers to keep benefits while attending college can all help.

“At risk jobs can be saved by establishing a state fund to subsidise viable jobs and by sending in expert groups to assist companies that are in trouble. If what we have is good, or needs guidance, then better hold on to it than put workers on the dole.

Construction workers can get back to work building schools, insulating homes and delivering much needed broad band infrastructure. Cork city and county has its fair share of school buildings which desperately need upgrading. The Minister for Education may not know how many but it is a disgrace that we are paying out hundreds of million euros per year on prefabricated buildings when we could provide gainful employment building schools of the future.

“All the evidence shows that societies which are more equal prosper more in the long term. We need to get away from the politics of unsustainable development; of an economy run for the golden circle rather than those who create it. The Sinn Féin proposals are aimed to build an economy which is sustainable and which will reward those who contribute to it.” ENDS

Full Text of Speech below:

A Chairde,

There are three government Ministers in Cork. Each and every one of them has seriously failed the people who elected them and the people they govern. In government they are pursuing policies which seek to protect their friends in the golden circle by punitively taxing those in and out of work and cutting essential services to the core. Their use of public servants wages as a cash cow to protect their friends is nothing less than disgraceful.

These Ministers are responsible for:

Slashing the income of all workers except consultants and professionals. This has a particularly harsh effect on younger people who are starting out at a lower level of income.

On the one hand talking the talk on the knowledge economy but on the other hand undermining children’s educational opportunities by deep cuts in the service and preparing to make university education more exclusive with the introduction of even higher fees.

Cynically promising retraining, while only providing a token number of places which would not be enough to retrain those who were laid off in January and February alone. Already people, many of them with skills, are being told there is no place for them in retraining centres.

Slashing the job seekers allowance of people under twenty even though there are no courses for them to go on.

Cutting childcare for young families.Ireland cannot simply cut or tax its way out of recession. The fall out from the emergency budget will be serious and long term. Families will continue to see their household incomes slashed. Workers will continue to loose their jobs. It is a recipe for the creation of a black economy rather than a real economy.

And for what – to pay for a massive slush fund which will ensure their friends in the golden circle, particularly those who invested in the banks, will be saved. Quite simply, you and I will have to fork out a lot for a long time to support those who were willing to bring this country to its knees, in the pursuit of their personal fortunes. There is an alternative and that alternative is protecting jobs and developing new jobs

The unemployment figures here in Cork are truly frightening. The photograph of the long queue of men and women winding its way out of dole office across the bridge and along the quay illustrates the gravity of the situation as much as any statistics from the CSO.

The layoffs from firms such as Flexitronics and Donnellys get the headlines but thousands more are loosing their jobs or are on short time in retail and tourism and other areas. Unions in the construction industry are reporting that members are now in long term unemployment and struggling to maintain mortgages. There is an embargo on recruitment in major public employers like the HSE.

What this economy needs is sustenance not further punishment. It needs policies which will seek to maintain the existing employment where possible and prepare the ground for new employment.

Sinn Féin is the only political party that has set out substantial detailed proposals - 80 of them - to get Cork and the rest of the country back to work. Protecting jobs and creating new employment is the absolute priority for us. I will not, you will be pleased to hear, go through every one of them tonight. We have published them widely and the full set of proposals is available on the national Sinn Féin website.

But I would like to put to you some of the principle points.

A comprehensive skills and education strategy can prepare workers to create and take up new employment - getting early school leavers back to education, investing in Community Employment and allowing unemployed workers to keep benefits while attending college.

At risk jobs can be saved by establishing a state fund to subsidise viable jobs and by sending in expert groups to assist companies that are in trouble. If what we have is good, or needs guidance, then better hold on to it than put workers on the dole.

Construction workers can get back to work building schools, insulating homes and delivering much needed broad band infrastructure. Cork city and county has its fair share of school buildings which desperately need upgrading. The Minister for Education does not know how many but it is a disgrace that we are paying out hundreds of million euros per year on prefabricated buildings when we could provide gainful employment building schools of the future.

Jobs can be created with a focus on areas such as green technology, agrifood industries and other sectors which are showing a potential for growth even in the international circumstances.

Families should be helped to manage mortgage and credit card debt. It is important that families are sustained through this economic crisis. It does society no good at all to see thousands of people loose their homes through no fault of their own. Banks and lending institutions which made such spectacular profits from spiralling house prices now ensure that their clients keep their homes.

A chairde, all the evidence shows that societies which are more equal prosper more in the long term. We need to get away from the politics of unsustainable development; of an economy run for the golden circle rather than those who create it. The Sinn Féin proposals are aimed to build an economy which is sustainable and which will reward those who contribute to it.

The economy here in Cork and across Ireland can be turned around. These measures and others must be brought together in a three-year jobs plan. This plan must set targets and those targets must be met.

With the right plan and strong leadership we can get Ireland back to work. This means a change in policy and a new politics in Ireland. It means new ideas from new people. It means building a political alternative. We have just not the duty but also the opportunity to do the building which will bring a new a prosperous Ireland.

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