Gerry Adams throws down gauntlet to those pursuing sham politics
Speaking to party activists in Kells, County Meath last night, at the launch of Joe Reilly's election campaign, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams described comments by the various conservative parties about the make up of the next government as ‘sham politics’. Mr. Adams said “In the lead up to the last General Election the electorate were sold a pup. There was little or no discussion about how to resolve problems in key services such as health and education, instead all that was discussed were costings and balance sheets. And it is clear that the approach to the next election will be no different, except that this time the focus will be on Sinn Féin.
“Sometime over the next 18 months the electorate will choose a new government. I want to challenge the Taoiseach and the other party leaders to stop hiding behind sham politics and to engage in a real debate about the problems facing people the length and breadth of the country.”
Mr. Adams said
“In the lead up to the last General Election the electorate were sold a pup. There was little or no discussion about how to resolve problems in key services such as health and education, instead all that was discussed were costings and balance sheets. And it is clear that the approach to the next election will be no different, except that this time the focus will be on Sinn Féin.
Sometime over the next 18 months the electorate will choose a new government. I want to challenge the Taoiseach and the other party leaders to stop hiding behind sham politics and to engage in a real debate about the problems facing people the length and breadth of the country.
“The next election needs to be
fought in terms of ideas and the type of country we want to live in
not in terms of accountants balance sheets. Sinn Féin is
committed to putting equality at the heart of government policy.
“Sinn Féin wants to see an end to the two tier health system. We believe that public spending on health should go into public services and not private health care. The Health Minister says it is too costly to provide a further 3,000 public hospital beds as promised in the National Health Strategy. Yet in the same breath the Minister is announcing tax breaks for private hospitals without any disclosure of the cost involved and is talking about providing land at public hospital sites for the development of private hospitals. There are hundreds of millions worth of public health facilities lying idle because the government will not provide the funding required. At the same time public money is being squandered by the government paying over the odds to treat public patients in the private system.
"There are 48,000 family units on housing waiting lists and 40% of those in the private rented sector receive social welfare rent supplement. This makes absolutely no sense either for the economy or for those languishing on such lists. Deadlines need to be set for the elimination of housing waiting lists. We support calls by the National Economic and Social Council for an increase of 73,000 units of permanent social housing between now and 2012. Property developers and speculators cannot be allowed to dictate government policy – the 20% clause for social housing in all developments should be reinstated immediately and the practice of developers and speculators sitting on land banks for years at a time should be outlawed.
"Given the massive resources at the disposal of the state, the government is in a position to provide a proper health service, sufficient housing and a decent education system. The reason this is not happening is because the government’s focus is not on building public services but on privatizing public services. There is also an additional problem of gross inefficiency across government departments.
"We believe that investing in public services should be the number one priority for any incoming government. There is also a need to have an equitable tax system which would allow the state to deliver the infrastructure and services badly needed.
"Currently the system massively favours the wealthiest in our society – that includes individuals and corporations. There is a lie out there that we are a low tax economy. Yes, while some personal taxation rates may be low in comparison to other states the reality is that there is massive and increasing indirect taxation. This way of raising tax disproportionately impacts most on those least able to afford it. This is inequitable and unjust.
“Who, except this FF/PD coalition and the conservative opposition parties, could argue against the very wealthy paying their fair share in tax? Who, again except this FF/PD coalition and the conservative opposition parties, could argue against people being treated in hospital on the basis of need and not on their ability to pay?
"An equitable and progressive taxation system is essential if there is to be real equality in Ireland. Under a progressive tax regime those who have more money pay more while those who have less pay less.
“Sinn Féin is calling for:
¨ the ending of all tax exemptions except where the economic and social value outweighs the cost to the exchequer of the exemption and in such cases the exemption should be at the minimal rate necessary to bring about the goal for which it was introduced.
¨ the introduction of legislative changes to end the ability of wealthy individuals to declare that they are non-resident for tax purposes.
¨ Those on the minimum wage to be kept out of the tax net for the entire tax year and even if there are raises in the minimum wage
¨ A review of the VAT system to examine its impact on low income families. There is serious concern that a disproportionate percentage of the tax take in this state is raised through taxes on spending which hit the less well off the hardest.” ENDS