Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McGuinness sets out demand for all-Ireland economy

20 November, 2011


Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness last night delivered a speech on building an all-Ireland economy at the Sinn Féin Uniting Ireland Conference in Newry.

During the course of a wide ranging address Mr McGuinness said:

“Our economic needs do not register with policy makers in London. What can have the biggest impact on our economy is the situation in the South. Our economies are interconnected and interdependent. This is not a political aspiration but a statement of economic fact. We believe that greater cooperation across Ireland will deliver more for all our people than the existing competition between our regions. “Given that economic reality Sinn Féin believes frank, open and objective discussion to develop an all Ireland plan to promote jobs, economic growth, innovation and export threatens no one’s identity and benefits us all.

“Indeed I think in recent years there has been an ever increasing willingness by unionists particularly those in business to look sensibly at greater all Ireland working which benefits us all.“The real politick of delivering proper healthcare, education and in other areas like infrastructure mean that increasingly political unionism must look to all-Ireland co-operation as a sensible way forward in delivering effective public services.

He went on to say:

“The route we take to recovery must look beyond the old economic system and to the ability of the 32 Counties to contribute to a sustainable and competitive economy. The increase in cross border trade, banking and insurance regulation and the potential of an all-Ireland energy market have demonstrated the interlinked and inter-dependent nature of economies, north and south. The private sector has moved ahead of the Dáil and the Assembly, reflecting the reality that the all Island economy makes good business sense.

“There are just over 6.4 million people on our island. Existing economic strategies north and south are targeted at high value, high cost jobs and innovation, research and development, yet we have two separate education systems and disjointed and uncoordinated third level sectors and isolated industries. This situation is bad economics, it is bad politics and it is bad for ordinary people – nationalist and unionist alike.”

Full text of Martin McGuinness’ speech:

The last five years have seen a step change in peace and politics of the north. We have completed the first, full term of an inclusive power-sharing executive, in the history of this state. 

Only this week we have published the Programme for Government and the Investment Strategy.We have faced challenges within and outside of the political process. We have met those challenges and have maintained working institutions which deliver for all our people.There remains a strong unity of purpose, across parties, to build on the achievements of the Executive and Assembly, to strengthen our relationships and build on our agreements.

In this term we face the need to deliver for all our people in the face of significant economic challenges.These challenges are global, national and regional. They are interlinked and impact on all in our community. Nationally we have the continuing fallout from the banking crisis in the South.

Two of our four banks are owned by the Irish Government. We could see in excess of £6 billion worth of assets in the North being part of NAMA. We have the continual fluctuations with exchange rates that create economic swings and roundabouts for business along the border. All of these uncertainties impact negatively on every citizen on this island.

Regionally we have the imposition of the Tory led fiscal policy on our economy without consideration as to their impact. The policies being pursued reflect the economic situation of Britain and England in particular. As our economy accounts for less that 3% of the British GDP it is not surprising that we do not register in their economic thinking. There is no support for their agenda here and yet they seek to impose it on us. They have set aside commitments given in the lead up to St. Andrews to address the legacy of underinvestment in infrastructure and conflict. This position is a disgrace.The size of the economic challenge we face is not insurmountable. The political process demonstrates that progress is always possible. 

The scale of political change achieved over the past number of years has lessons from our economic future. The first is to believe that change is possible. The second is to face up to the reality of the situation. Our economic needs do not register with policy makers in London. What can have the biggest impact on our economy is the situation in the South. Our economies are interconnected and interdependent. This is not a political aspiration but a statement of economic fact.

We believe that greater cooperation across Ireland will deliver more for all our people than the existing competition between our regions. Given that economic reality Sinn Féin believes a frank, open and objective discussion to develop an all Ireland plan to promote jobs, economic growth, innovation and export threatens no one’s identity and benefit us all. Indeed I think in recent years there has been an ever increasing willingness by unionists particularly those in business to look sensibly at greater all Ireland working which benefits us all.

The real politick of delivering proper healthcare, education and in other areas like infrastructure mean that increasingly political unionism must look to all-Ireland co-operation as a sensible way forward in delivering effective public services.Only yesterday the NSMC met in Armagh – with much of the discussion on the economy and on infrastructural developments like the A5.

The route we take to recovery must look beyond the old economic system and to the ability of the 32 Counties to contribute to a sustainable and competitive economy. The increase in cross border trade, banking and insurance regulation and the potential of an all-Ireland energy market have demonstrated the interlinked and inter-dependent nature of economies, north and south. The private sector has moved ahead of the Dáil and the Assembly, reflecting the reality that the all Island economy makes good business sense.

There are just over 6.4 million people on our island. Existing economic strategies north and south are targeted at high value, high cost jobs and innovation, research and development, yet we have two separate education systems and disjointed and uncoordinated third level sectors and isolated industries. This situation is bad economics, it is bad politics and it is bad for ordinary people – nationalist and unionist alike.

Sinn Féin is the only party that has consistently advocated for the tax varying and borrowing powers to stimulate growth and deliver social justice. We have continually called for and will support the harmonisation of Corporation Tax across the island to promote growth. We would go further and seek the power to develop flexible approach to taxation and incentives to promote economic growth, research and development and social justice.

We face considerable economic challenges and opportunities in the time ahead. All in our community expects and are entitled to have prosperity and for that prosperity to be shared. We need an economy that delivers for all. The political agreements that we have reached define a dynamic approach to relations within the north and across the island that can and do deliver for all without changing our identities or core beliefs.

We now need to build economic agreements that allow for the same dynamic and flexible approach. Agreements which recognise that the greatest economic challenge and opportunity comes on an all Ireland basis. We need to approach this issue in an imaginative and pragmatic position and look fully objectively of the benefits of greater co-operation.

We need to look beyond the immediate and into the future. People have seen the political challenges we faced and overcome. We need to believe that change is the only option. We now need the same courage and innovative thinking from all sections of our community to meet these economic challenges head on.

Over the past four years I have been centrally involved in the process of working with investors. We have delivered significant investment including were we are today. I fully understand of the needs of business, the needs of the community and the opportunities that exist.

We now need to fully realise these opportunities. To be open to new ways of working and new structures. For our part Sinn Féin has led on political progress, we will bring the same approach, the same energy and innovation to delivering an economy for all our people.

Connect with Sinn Féin