EU and Germany must look beyond Irish economic data - Senator Conway-Walsh
Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has stressed the need for the EU and Germany to look beyond economic data in order to identify the requirement to invest in the regions and start to undo the damage that nearly a decade of austerity has inflicted on the Irish people.
Speaking from Germany where she is part of a Finance Committee delegation meeting key figures from the German economic, political and financial sectors Senator Conway-Walsh said:
"Today I met with Helmut Schleweis, President of the German Savings Bank Association.
"The Oireachtas Finance Committee has already examined the need for a public banking sector in Ireland which would give SMEs especially more choice.
"Such a banking system is possible in Ireland. One that serves the whole of society which is guided by social responsibility and financial inclusion and also facilitates investment in the regions.
"These public banks also pay tax on their profits, something our own pillar banks will not do for 20 years to come.
"At a meeting with the Budgetary Committee of the Bundestag I stressed the importance of targeted investment as key to encouraging and sustaining a vibrant SME sector.
"I impressed upon them that the effects of austerity were still to be seen in the growing gap in inequality. The idea that Ireland has successfully emerged from austerity is flawed and only masks the deficiencies in services such as transport, health and communication that continue to blight rural Ireland.
"An over reliance on foreign direct investment and the effects of EU quantitative easing has exacerbated the divide between the regions within Ireland.
"A new way of thinking is required and today was all about letting the officials in Europe know the lived day to day reality in post austerity Ireland.
"Brexit featured throughout my engagements today. I referred to the idea of an EU solidarity fund in order to help businesses cope with the effects of Brexit.
"I told them that a referendum on Irish Unity was inevitable and that many models of what an all-island economy would look like have been put forward and that they all point to positive economic and social outcomes.
"The EU has a role to play in facilitating the current debate on the way forward and I encouraged all those that I met to reflect on Germany's recent history of national reunification and to think of positive ways they could aid the process in Ireland.
"In the coming days there are further meeting planned with representatives of the public banking sector and the European Central Bank where I will be raising the same concerns."