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Sinn Fein - economics of Irish unity

20 July, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on All Ireland Integration, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has dismissed comments from former Irish Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald that Irish reunification in economically unviable as typical outdated thinking that fails to stand up to scrutiny.

Mr McElduff said:

"Sinn Féin have consistently argued that the Six County State is a failed political and economic entity. Garret Fitzgerald's analysis is typical of the outdated partitionist thinking of many Southern politicians.

"Claims that there is no desire for reunification do not stand up to scrutiny. Recent elections across the island have shown there is an appetite for reunification and over 342,000 people now support Sinn Féin's vision for Irish Unity. Irish reunification has the potential to create a real momentum and release the undoubted potential of people right across this island.

"Increasing numbers of people also now advocate for a single island economy because they recognise its potential. Reunification would require substantial investment across the Ireland to re-establish the transport and communications infrastructure but also in terms of connecting economies and the creative and knowledge based centres across the island.

"It is illogical that a small island nation of slightly over 5 million people should have two political structures, two economies, two transport systems, two education, agriculture, health, tourism etc systems. This duplication requires two bureaucracies that if challenged could generate significant new money for expenditure on front line services and infrastructure. There are real savings that can be made by removing duplication, in pooling resources and in developing economies of scale.

"The British government has failed to invest in the 6 counties for decades and 10 years on from the first IRA cessation we have still not seen a genuine peace dividend. Addressing the legacy of under investment and a genuine peace dividend has the potential to enable rapid economic development particularly in border communities, where it is impossible to ignore the negative social and economic impact of the border, and through investment in infrastructure. Garret Fitzgerald is adopting a 'head in the sand' approach if he cannot see this.

"There should also be a sense of urgency in developing an all Ireland approach within a rapidly changing Europe, particularly in protecting Ireland's interests in EU negotiations. Agriculture is a prime example of a sector where Ireland's collective EU contribution warrants a single policy and its effective articulation in Brussels. Unleashing the potential of working together on this small island will enhance the future of our farming and fishing communities and help provide a better future for rural Ireland." ENDS

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