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Adams - Building a strong economy will be one of the most important tasks facing any incoming Executive and All-Ireland Ministerial Council

1 November, 2006


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking during an all-party meeting with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said:

"Building a strong economy will be one of the most important tasks facing any incoming Executive and all-Ireland Ministerial council. Of course, our primary political focus in the first instance must remain on advancing the peace process and bringing about a situation where Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are equal partners in government. Their responsibility with their Executive colleagues will be to propose solutions to the crisis in the health service, in education, in our rural communities, in job creation and transport. They have to find solutions to the problems confronting our young people, our elderly and disabled.

Many years ago Sinn Fein proposed the need for a substantial peace dividend. We also called upon the Irish government to contribute. Irish Republicans come at all of this from the perspective of creating a new society on the island of Ireland based on equality and justice.

That is why Sinn Féin is calling for an all-Ireland economic development strategy, with north and south working together, sharing resources, sharing experience and sharing the benefits of economic development and expansion.

The Preparation for Government Committee and its Economic Sub-group have held very valuable discussions on a peace dividend, as well as on other measures needed to transform the economy, including tax reforms.

Such a package is essential to the building of a modern economy with a highly skilled workforce, strong public services and a vastly improved road, air and rail network. It also needs to redress decades of under investment West of the Bann.

To help deliver these basic requirements Sinn Féin is calling for a £10 billion peace dividend from the British exchequer, to be supported in a substantial way by the Irish government.‰

Mr. Adams full address to the meeting

Let me begin by thanking Gordon Brown for inviting the parties to this meeting. It is a unique meeting and a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the people of the north and the border counties. We now have the possibility of building on the progress that has been made over the last decade.

Today we are concerned with the bricks and mortar decisions that will determine the quality of life of our families, friends and neighbours and most importantly of our young people, particularly the disadvantaged. One quarter of our children live in poverty. One quarter of households get 80% of income from benefits. We want to change this. We want equality for everyone. We can do that best by creating the conditions to ensure long-term economic growth and sustainability.

That means the British government providing the resources necessary to deliver a Programme for Government which brings about real and meaningful and positive change for citizens. The reality is that decades of bad economic planning and policies mean that our current

infrastructure is deficient and cannot meet the social and economic demands of the 21st century.

Our five parties have different opinions and analysis on many aspects of the situation in Ireland and the relationship between our people and the people of these islands. But today we are united in meeting the challenge to build a strong economy. And to achieve that we need an integrated, strategic and democratic approach.

Building a strong economy will be one of the most important tasks facing any incoming Executive and all-Ireland Ministerial council. Of course, our primary political focus in the first instance must remain on advancing the peace process and bringing about a situation where Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are equal partners in government. Their responsibility with their Executive colleagues will be to propose solutions to the crisis in the health service, in education, in our rural communities, in job creation and transport. They have to find solutions to the problems confronting our young people, our elderly and disabled.

Many years ago Sinn Fein proposed the need for a substantial peace dividend. We also called upon the Irish government to contribute.

Irish Republicans come at all of this from the perspective of creating a new society on the island of Ireland based on equality and justice.

That is why Sinn Féin has been calling for an all-Ireland economic development strategy, with north and south working together, sharing resources, sharing experience and sharing the benefits of economic development and expansion.

The Preparation for Government Committee and its Economic Sub-group have held very valuable discussions on a peace dividend, as well as on other measures needed to transform the economy, including tax reforms. Sinn Féin supports the proposals agreed by this Committee.

Such a package is essential to the building of a modern economy with a highly skilled workforce, strong public services and a vastly improved road, air and rail network. It also needs to redress decades of under investment West of the Bann.

To help deliver these basic requirements Sinn Féin is calling for a £10 billion peace dividend from the British exchequer, to be supported in a substantial way by the Irish government.

The all-Ireland economic development strategy we are campaigning for is about investing in the long term economic transformation of the north and border counties and developing a joined-up all-Ireland economic approach which can significantly improve the quality of life of every citizen.

Sinn Féin is looking for:

  • Investment in key infrastructural projects such as the Dublin - Derry- Letterkenny road which would be key to development in the North West and in public transport
  • The creation of a single all-Ireland investment agency which would be key to ensuring balanced economic growth across the island
  • Fiscal flexibility for the Assembly and Executive including tax gathering powers.
  • We also need a range of measures to aid business development including greater support for business start ups, incentives for Research & Development to encourage the growth of high skilled jobs and the creation of Enterprise Zones
  • The reversal of cutbacks in education and library boards and in health service provision.
  • Deferment of the water reform legislation
  • Harmonizing taxes and business regulations across the island
  • A Small Business Task Force to help develop small and medium size businesses and look at opportunities for those affected by the collapse over the last ten years in the manufacturing, agriculture and textile industries.
  • Investment in education and training to re-skill those who have lost their jobs in sectors which have suffered substantial job losses, to encourage graduates to remain in Ireland and encourage entrepreneurship.
  • Encourage the potential for Irish language based regeneration.
  • In the event of the sale of under utilized public land or buildings all monies raised should be ring-fenced for use by the Executive and not go to the British Treasury.

It is clear that the cost of rebuilding infrastructure, particularly in water and roads, to a standard required for a modern economy, cannot be met through the current budget allocation. Further penalties on the tax payer to meet this cost either through water charges or rates is not sustainable. The Republican view is that the current deplorable state or our infrastructure and economy is a result of the policies of successive British governments.

I know you understand the legacy of colonialism. The partition of Ireland and being at the edge of the British exchequer puts us at a clear economic disadvantage. The British government has a responsibility to redress this.

Last week the Irish government set out some of the elements that will make up their contribution to a peace dividend and today we are asking you, Chancellor, also to be generous in respect of the British government‚s responsibilities." ENDS

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