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Sinn Féin voice concern at Company Law Reform Bill

8 September, 2005

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has voiced serious concern at the draft Company Law Reform Bill and its implications for local accountability, equality and the all-Ireland economy.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Sinn Féin have huge concerns about the implications of this legislation. The presumptive approach of Angela Smith falls short of what is required in terms of the implementation of equality legislation. The bland assertion that the legislation has no equality impact before any assessment only serves to highlight the failure of direct rule ministers to take seriously the legal requirement to test all legislation and policy decisions against existing equality criteria.

"The failure of the British government to uphold the equality agenda is becoming a regular feature of the way that direct rule ministers are operating. It is not for British ministers to pre-empt legal equality requirements.

"This legislation proposes far reaching changes in company law. Direct rule ministers are rushing ahead with this legislation when they should be looking at its implication in terms of equality, loss of democratic accountability and further obstacles to the development of the all-Ireland economy.

"The underhand way that direct rule ministers are introducing or extending this legislation to cover the Six Counties would in effect take control over a key policy area away from any future Assembly and make it subject to harmonisation through automatic extension of British law. This is a serious mistake. Control over such a vital area should be with the local administration. Adopting 'UK' legislation would result in a severe loss of local accountability.

"This legislation also runs contrary to the political thrust of the Agreement and the development of an all-Ireland economic framework. Given the realities of the all-Ireland economy and the abject failure of British economic policies to recognise economic conditions pertaining in the 6 Counties, what is needed is further harmonisation of the legal framework within which business operates on an all-Ireland scale. The DETI proposals could effectively create further barriers to cross-border trade and business investment." ENDS

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