Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Arthur Morgan T.D. Speaking on the Economy

21 February, 2009

A chairde, since we last gathered here 12 months ago over 150,000 workers have lost their jobs, and at least 100,000 more will be gone by year end.

From Dell in Limerick to DC Technics in North Dublin, tens of thousands of workers and their families are facing unemployment, saddled with high mortgages and rising personal debt. Thousands more have to get by on reduced hours, lower real wages and cut backs in their most basic services.

Across the island from the factory floors, to the offices of our SMEs, thousands of businesses are faced with the threat of closure.

But despite all the job losses there is one group of workers I would love to see signing on. There is one group I would gladly see shown the door. It is the bankers; the so-called banking regulators and the sinking Fianna Fail-Green Party Government that deserve the sack.

For too long Irish banking executives were let away with embezzlement, reckless lending and fraud. As our bankers were ransacking the deposits of workers and pensioners, the Taoiseach, the Regulators and successive Ministers for Finance all turned a blind eye.

This era of banking robbery and irresponsible lending did not begin in the last three years. The deregulation generation that Charlie McCreevy was so fond of, was created by successive Fianna Fail Governments and are continuing to be shielded by a Fianna Government today. On the very night that Brian Cowen was meeting Irish bank chiefs last September, at least two of those executives were involved in deposit transfers involving billions of euro designed to actively deceive financial markets and the general public. We were being lied to by the Government at the time of the Guarantee and we are being lied to again today.

I believe that Irish workers have had enough. Our party, our comrades in trade unions and our partners in our SMEs will not allow the banks to go on wrecking this country. All of those involved in banking corruption must be investigated, charged and sent to jail. All those responsible for the financial crisis must be sacked and the boards of our banks and regulators must be cleared out. And if Fianna Fáil and the Greens are unwilling to bring in these changes then we need to find a new Government which will.

It is unacceptable for banking executives to earn millions of euro of tax payers money while ordinary Irish people are struggling to meet the basic cost of living.
Hospital consultants should no longer get €300,000 for a 33-hour week job; we can no longer allow the CEO of ESB to receive €500,000 a year while somw workers are living on €15,000 a year.

But these fundamental reforms can only be achieved when the state finally stands up to the banking mafia. We need more than a token share in our two biggest banks and we oppose the Government's decisions for the tax payer to take responsibility of developers' toxic debts in Anglo-Irish. A chairde, this nationalisation was not done for the benefit of Irish people but to bailout Fianna Fáil's crooked circle of friends.

What we want to see is a state owned bank through the amalgamation and nationalisation of AIB and Bank of Ireland. We need a public bank that will invest in growing Irish business and providing the seed capital for start up business. We need investment in the next generation of R&D: in green technologies, bio tech, software and the new communication sectors that will provide the next decades of jobs on this island. We need a public bank for the Irish economy, not a bail out for the Golden Circle.

But fixing the banks is only part of the overall plan for our economic recovery. Since the recession hit home, we as a party have made a number of proposals to revive our ailing economy.

We reject the notion that mass unemployment is inevitable. We believe that we can revive the economy through job retention and job creation.
What we need is an economic recovery plan not a cut back programme. This means fast tracking business start ups; investment in training, up-skilling workers and enhancing our infrastructure.

To create jobs we must invest in jobs. Frontloading our infrastructure- focusing on areas of growth such as renewable energy and agri-food industry and growing our SME exporting capacity.

It is possible to stem the tide of mass unemployment. But the Government needs job creation targets of least 1,000 jobs per week which must be increased over the next two years.

We accept that there is a need for savings, but we reject the punitive pension levy which is being imposed on public workers. Today thousands of public sector servants will march to show that they will not be bullied by this Government; that workers both public and private will stand united.

The real wastages in our public spending are not because of workers but because of Fianna Fáil cronyism. We want an end to outsourcing of our public services- to stop using PPPs and a cap on the extravagant salaries of senior management in our state companies and banks.

Through these measures and through progressive taxation such as lifting of the PRSI ceiling, standardising tax relief and raising the income for the rich we can save €2.7 billion which goes beyond the €2 billion saving that the Government has sought.

We cannot have economic progress without social progress. We cannot overcome this financial burden without sharing the burden equally. And we cannot create jobs without investing in jobs. It is time to stand up to the cut backs, to begin action on keeping and making jobs and to build our way out of the recession.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

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