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Sinn Féin demand for Peace Dividend grows in wake of Budget

25 October, 2005

Commenting as the budget for the six counties is unveiled today by the British Secretary of State Peter Hain, indicating sharp rises in the regional rate, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún said that the British government, having been responsible for historic under investment in infrastructure here, had a responsibility through a peace dividend to tackle this rather than expect ordinary citizens to pick up the bill for a failure in British policy over decades.

Ms de Brún said:

"In today's budget Peter Hain has indicated that he wishes to increase substantially the level of the regional rate paid by every household in the six counties. He contends that this extra change will compensate for the delayed introduction of Water Charges and is required to tackle the under investment in infrastructure.

"The reality is that the British government have neglected our infrastructure for decades. This has damaged every part of our infrastructure - our roads, schools, hospitals, railways and sewerage. There is also a damming legacy of discrimination, inequality and disadvantage that must be tackled. The solution is not to increase the tax burden on people here through water charges and rates increases but for the British government to accept its responsibility to compensate for this historic under investment

"The EU peace funds and the International Fund for Ireland are a recognition of the impact that discrimination, partition and conflict have had on the social and economic well-being of our society. But these valuable programmes are not a substitute for a British government funded Peace dividend. It is time that the British government recognised their responsibility to address the impact of conflict and of under funding by successive British administrations.

"The British government needs to commit to a significant peace dividend so that any new Executive can effectively address the legacy of conflict and division in our community by tackling inequality, deprivation and historic under funding of vital public services. There is inequality and poverty in our society and both must be eradicated if we are to build on the promise of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement.

"Sinn Féin will be seeking meetings with both the British and Irish governments on this issue in the time ahead." ENDS

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