Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Wealth should be used to eliminate poverty and create fair society

6 May, 2007


Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP, has said 'Equality is at the heart of Sinn Féin's agenda for government. We believe that the wealth created by the economic success of the past number years in Ireland should be used to create a fairer society and to eliminate poverty.' She said 'Government and Opposition parties who are claiming that they will deliver the public services that people are crying out for, while at the same time offering to slash the tax take, are being highly irresponsible. Even allowing for economic growth at the current rate, this simply does not add up. Sinn Fein has no intention of getting involved in this disingenuous auction politics.'

Mary Lou McDonald said:

"Ireland is now in a better position than ever before to achieve the eradication of poverty and to build a fair and more equal society. Despite the prosperity of the last ten years the Government failed to share the abundant wealth with those most vulnerable or to deliver strong public health services. These are entitlements that can be delivered but only if they are prioritised.

"Those parties who are claiming that they will deliver the public services that people are crying out for, while at the same time offering to slash the tax take, are being highly reckless. Even allowing for economic growth at the current rate, this just does not add up.

"Sinn Fein's position is very clear. We will maintain the tax take and invest in social protections and public service provision. The cuts that other parties are talking about will not hugely increase weekly incomes but this money invested in public services would make a huge difference and transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

"One in five people in this state are still at risk of poverty. Almost 275,000 people are lack adequate food, shelter, warmth and clothing. We have one of the highest rates of child poverty in the EU and OECD. Over 60,000 people cannot afford to adequately heat their homes.

"The elimination of poverty is a priority for Sinn Féin. We are proposing to do this through the delivery of improved social protections and by measures to address the problem of low pay. We also want to address the associated issue of social exclusion. It is our goal to ensure that everyone has a decent standard of living.

"Sinn Féin has a comprehensive range of proposals to ease the transition from welfare to work through education and employment measures, accessible and affordable childcare, and appropriate and adequate income supports.

"We propose a package of measures to raise household incomes, enhance specific supports for low-income families, eradicate food and fuel poverty, bring early school leavers back into education, increase support for unpaid care work and tackle disability-related poverty.

"To achieve a more equal society we need a taxation system which is just and fair. The purpose of tax revenue should the financing of public services, infrastructure and social protections. Tax revenue should be raised fairly. Those who have more should pay more, and those who have less should pay less.

"Tax policy should be about reducing the burden on low and middle-income earners. Nobody should have to pay twice as a consequence of service charges and user fees. Government should also seek to raise revenue through methods other than taxation or selling off public assets.

"Successive Government policy has created a situation where some of the wealthiest people in this country pay no income tax at all - while people on middle incomes are not only paying tax at a rate of 41%, they also pay disproportionately more of their income on tax through consumption tax (VAT)

"The government has redistributed wealth in favour of the already-wealthy. They have allowed the super-rich to skim off the rest of us. They have also sold off public assets and profitable public companies and contracted public services out privately. This policy has not only deprived the State of important sources of non-tax revenue, it has also subjected people to double taxation.

"Our first order of business for tax policy will be eliminating and closing all the loopholes and reducing the burden on the lowest-paid. We are also committed to reclaim and protect Irish sovereignty over taxation from encroachment by the EU and to harmonise the tax system on an all-Ireland basis."ENDS

Sinn Féin priorities in government

Raising Household Incomes

  • Increase the Family Income Supplement by €68 per week and make it an automatic payment
  • Extend eligibility for the Back to Work Allowance to include those who are unemployed for more than 12 months.
  • Extend the new Early Childcare Supplement to include children aged 6 to12.
  • Ensure lone parents can keep their rent supplement for at least 3 years of full-time work and continually if they are in part-time employment.
  • Abolish the means test for carers and substantially increase the Carer's Allowance.
  • Introduce a Cost of Disability Payment.

Taxation Justice

  • Keep those on or below the minimum wage out of the tax net, and set the minimum wage at, at least of 60% of average industrial earnings
  • Keep those on or below the average industrial earnings within the standard rate tax band.
  • Aggressively pursue tax evasion and invest adequate resources for tax collection and enforcement.
  • Close all remaining legal loopholes that have allowed millionaires to pay no tax whatsoever.
  • Introduce legislation to end tax exile status
  • Remove tax exemptions except where the economic and social value outweighs the cost eg R&D.
  • Negotiate for tax harmonisation across the island.

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