Martina Anderson - Irish Unity and peace Process - Ard Fheis 2012
In the 26 counties 90 people a day are emigrating. Half a million people are unemployed and 170 homes are reposessed over three months.
In the 6 counties £4 billion has been taken out of the block grant and on top of that the welfare system is being decimated.
And all of this is done in the name of austerity without any understanding or care of the devastating consequences for the ordinary people who have to face reduced take-home pay in real terms, higher costs of living, the burden of bank debt and cuts in public spending.
But we’re all in this together, right? Well, not quite.
The financiers, the bankers, the corporate executives, the holders of private equity and hedge funds, those faceless financial gamblers who lie at the root cause of the recession, are living pre-recession lifestyles whilst the rest of us live with austerity as a fact of life.
Granted, since 2008 some tighter financial regulations have been put in place but the necessary reform of economic policies has not happened.
Regulations are still not restrictive enough and reform has fallen far short of what is needed to prevent 2008 from happening again.
The pre-2008 economic system is pretty much still intact.
The financial sector continues to operate largely unregulated - like a casino full of Reckless Gamblers who, like Financial Vampires, are still taking chances with other people’s money, who exploit pension, insurance and savings funds, as well as the profits from genuine labour and business, and are still amassing billions in personal wealth that is stored far from the reach of the public purse.
Banks and Corporations continue to stock pile cash, Top Executives, Bankers and Financiers are still increasing their wealth.
Vodaphone has built a cash surplus of $14.3 billion; BP has built $12.8 billion.
In 2009, bank bonuses were at the same level as that year’s lending to small businesses; and almost 3,000 employees from the City of London, and around 300 employees at the Royal Bank of Scotland and employees at the Anglo Irish Bank, earned more than £1 million each in bonuses.
Added to the difficulties within the financial sector we also face duplication costs by having to pay for two of everything: two health services; two education systems; two transport infrastructures; two administrations.
In the North we are fighting to gain more control over our sovereignty, while the South look ready to hand sovereignty over to Europe.
In both cases, we’re at the mercy of external powers who hold the financial purse strings. In the North, British rule; in the South, EU control.
Despite our limited powers in the North, we have strived to protect people
We rejected the introduction of household water charges;
we froze student fees;
we maintained free travel for Pensioners,
We widened the provisions for Free School Meals and introduced grants for primary school uniforms,
We invested £80 million for disadvantaged communities; and are we will find the same funding for the to assist the most vulnerable in our society and have already allocated and additional 22 million to those on benefits particularily pensioners and those in receipt of cancer treatment.
If Sinn Féin in the north can achieve all of this with such limitations, think of what we could do on an all Ireland basis.
With the sovereignty of our country in our own control, we could decide our own economic and social fate.
We could choose an economic model that would promote greater equality of wealth distribution through increased wages, progressive taxation and investment in businesses to create new jobs and wealth.
This is not some dream for a fantastical utopia. It’s an entirely realisable and practical solution that has been successfully applied already in other places and in other times throughout modern history.
So, let’s work together to put an end to the short-termism of the financial vampires who drain our economy and instead, return to the practical economic measures that will ensure an economic system based on equality and rights and all Ireland solutions in a united Ireland context.