United Ireland economy can deliver sustainable prosperity - O'Neill
Sinn Féin MLA and Agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill has said a stronger economy in a united Ireland can deliver sustainable prosperity for all.
Speaking at a Sinn Féin economic conference in Derry this morning, which was attended by party activists and leading economic experts, Ms O'Neill said;
"We want to build an Ireland that all the people of Ireland can be proud of.
"An Ireland confident in itself, proud of its successes and which delivers for all the people of Ireland.
"An Ireland of good government and empowerment.
"An Ireland vigorous and determined in its resolution to end poverty and disadvantage, to support business, promote growth and tackle inequality.
"This is what we in Sinn Féin are determined to deliver
"I earnestly believe that in working towards a New and Equal United Ireland, we will reflect the wishes, the hopes and desires of all the people of Ireland
"If we are to achieve a new and equal Ireland then we must discuss and debate our progress towards it and our vision for it.
"We must never shy away from robust debate, but we should strive always to be constructive and respectful
It is of surprise to no-one, that we in Sinn Féin will always argue the case for greater economic powers for the north of Ireland or that we will argue the case for Irish Unity
"The more power the people of Ireland have, the more we can achieve and that extends to delivering a New and United Ireland.
"In the north we face the daily challenges of the current financial and budgetary crisis.
"We will face these challenges boldly, we seek positive solutions
"We know that there are no positive alternatives from Britain.
"We must be mindful that the solution to our challenges will come from within ourselves.
"We will not be halted from delivering a just, fair and equal Ireland fit for all of her people.
"Sinn Féin’s approach to governance in the north, acting in Ireland’s interest, demonstrates clearly what is possible even within the very severe financial and economic challenges that we face.
"When Westminster and Dublin cut during the crunch years, we invested what we could, where we could.
"We invested all that we could in the northern economy.
"We protected our Health Service from privatisation.
"Protected people from water charges and prescription charges.
"Ensured that older people benefit from free transport.
"We retained the Educational Maintenance Allowance to support young people from poorer backgrounds to stay in education
"We have protected the people, invested in business, created jobs
"And we have done all of this within the crippling constraints of British budget cuts that show no sign of going away.
"If we can achieve all this within the constraints of a British Government determined to implement an economic and social agenda that is entirely at odds with our vision for the economy and society
"Then what more can we achieve within a United Ireland, which is a just fair and equal Ireland
"Two competing, fractured economies on this island will not deliver prosperity for the people of Ireland.
"Where joint enterprise is applied, such as in Health, not only does it provide a higher standard of care but it produces better economic outcomes also. It improves the economic and physical well-being of our citizens.
The jointly funded cancer centre in Derry demonstrates that progressive thinking can deliver public services across Ireland effectively and efficiently.
Similar approaches must be developed and implemented with regard to the economy.
It is crucial, for the economic and social welfare of the people of Ireland, that we
· become champions for the creation of a Border Economic Zone as a means of fostering economic recovery in the border counties ensure that there is a timetable and plan for the full integration of public services in Ireland
· ensure that there is an integrated economic strategy for Ireland
"Maintaining the status quo in the form of two competing, fractured economies in Ireland can only perpetuate and increase the obstacles to sustainable economic recovery.
"A new stronger economy in a United Ireland can deliver sustainable economic prosperity that the present status quo is incapable of delivering.
"Together we can build a new stronger United Ireland economy that works for us all.
"In a United Ireland we would have a government that can make decisions with all of Ireland’s interests at heart.
"We would have stronger, fairer more just and prosperous economy in a United Ireland.
"So let’s use the time today have a discussion firmly focused on the future.
"Let’s consider how we can deliver economic recovery to all the people of Ireland.
"Sinn Féin stand for justice, fairness, prosperity and equality for all.
"We have a restless desire to make Ireland, north and south, the nation we know it can be.
"A prosperous United country where everyone can fulfil their potential.
"A just, fair and equal Ireland in which all of us come first and where no-one gets left behind.