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Sinn Féin demands decent standard of living for all

23 November, 2006


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, speaking at the launch of the party's pre budget submission, said, "In Budget 2007 Sinn Féin is calling on the Government to prioritise households living on or below the average industrial wage, including the almost 1 million people who are in receipt of weekly social welfare payments. Central to our proposals is the demand for a decent standard of living for all." He said "It is a disgrace that after more than a decade of unprecedented economic growth our public services are in such an inadequate state and so many people are struggling to survive."

Mr. Adams said, "This pre-budget submission is being presented against a background of rising costs, rising interest rates, record levels of personal debt and huge inequality in access to both housing and healthcare. Many people are now struggling to cope with day to day costs with some becoming trapped in debt. Prices are rising far faster than wages or benefits. Average childcare costs range from €200 to €350 per week per child. Following the approval of a 19.7% increase in ESB prices, the average electricity bill will increase from €740 to €890 in January. Gas bills will rise to almost €1,700 from €1,260. In November, the average price paid for a house state-wide was €308,179 while in Dublin it was €419,809.

"In Budget 2007 Sinn Féin is calling on the Government to prioritise households living on or below the average industrial wage including the almost 1 million people who are in receipt of weekly social welfare payments. Central to our proposals is the demand for a decent standard of living for all. It is a disgrace that after more than a decade of economic growth that our public services are in such a state and that many people are struggling to survive.

"Budgets are, we are told, always about tough choices. It can either reinforce the existing inequalities in our society or it can provide the resources to set a new direction for the future. That is what Sinn Féin wants to see happen.

"The wealth exists in this state to provide a first-class health service, to build sufficient housing to abolish waiting lists, to eliminate poverty in this generation, and to provide a proper standard of living for all our people.

"The Government is currently spending more than €62 billion a year. Since 1998, it has recorded cumulative surpluses of almost €40 billion. The big question is what these resources are being used for, who is benefiting most? It is clearly not those most in need or the growing numbers of people in full-time employment, but who are surviving below the poverty line.

"We are now only months away from a General Election and at the core of Sinn Féin's campaign will be proposals to end the crisis in the health service, advance the peace process and build a strong economy that delivers for all. We will also be putting forward far reaching proposals for all-Ireland integration in infrastructure, public services, job creation and other areas of life. On an island of five million people it makes no sense to have such duplication of services -- it is not cost effective and is an impediment to genuine regional development.

"All of this means a change of political direction. It means implementing policies that will deliver equality and strong public services. It means using economic growth to serve the people, and not the other way round. Today's proposals are part of an overall programme for government that Sinn Féin will be putting before the people in the coming months."

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