2016 is a huge year for the people of Ireland, marking the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic commits to pursuing the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally. At its core is a belief that all people are equal and all nations are sovereign.
That historic document is a clear statement of intent for an all-Ireland Republic built on the foundations of civil and religious liberty, social justice and equality for all citizens. It remains the mission statement of modern Irish republicanism and its principles guide us today.
Sinn Féin believes that citizens have fundamental rights which are the responsibility of government to deliver – the right to a home; the right to decent healthcare; the right to education; the right to security; the right to equality no matter where you are born or what your background, your beliefs or your sexuality; the right of people with a disability to play a full and independent role in all aspects of life; the right of young people to live and work in their own country; the right of Irish language speakers to use the language in every aspect of their daily lives; and the right to the re-unification of Ireland.
Fine Gael and Labour tell us that a recovery is underway. If it is, it isn’t a fair recovery. It is a two- tier recovery that benefits them and their friends at the top, not the majority of hard-working Irish people.
Instead of delivering on their promise of a democratic revolution, decision after decision taken by this government has caused chaos in the lives of hundreds of thousands of families across the State. It is clear that Fine Gael and Labour have no solutions to the crises they have caused in housing and health and it is significant that when Fine Gael moved from their 5-point-plan to a 3-step-plan, they dropped healthcare entirely.
Enda Kenny now wants to return to the reckless boom and bust policies of Fianna Fáil. He wants to bring in tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest and ensure the continuation of chaos for everyone else.
Sinn Féin has a very different vision for Ireland.
Sinn Féin has a plan for a fair recovery that will grow the economy and secure the recovery for the average family. That is why our first priority in government will be to abolish water charges and the property tax and take more than a quarter of a million people out of the USC. We will increase employment and support enterprises.
Sinn Féin has a plan for healthcare that is based on the fundamental belief that inability to pay should not deny access, nor the opportunity to lead a full, long, and healthy life.
The health system is failing people every day because it is a grossly inequitable two-tier, public- private system. The privatisation of health by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour has meant that today there is almost no aspect of our health system that is universal. Irish people are now paying more and getting less.
In order to deliver universal healthcare we need to increase capacity in the system and progressively replace private spending by members of the public with public spending.
Over the lifetime of the next government we have set out a year-on-year plan to move from a two-tier public-private system towards universal healthcare, free at the point of delivery and where access is based on need alone.
We have a plan for housing. The current crisis in housing did not happen by accident. It happened because Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour took the decision to end the State’s direct responsibility for meeting housing needs. They handed housing policy over to private developers, banks and private landlords. This policy has been a costly disaster.
They refused to invest in social and affordable housing and there are now officially 90,000 households on local authority waiting lists. They refused to deal with soaring rents in the private sector and caused rents to increase faster in 2015 than at any time during the boom.
Sinn Féin believes that one of the fundamental rights in any society is the right to a home and that is why we are committed to building 100,000 social and affordable homes.
For the first time since the foundation of this State, there is an opportunity to elect a progressive government and Sinn Féin wants to lead that government. This manifesto sets out the detail of what we want to deliver and it builds on the foundations set out in our yearly budget alternatives and our detailed plans on health, housing, childcare, rural Ireland and the economics of Irish unity.
We have undergone a rigorous costing exercise with the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform over the past number of months to cost this document. The first of the following two balance sheets outlines the confirmed budget room (fiscal space) available over the five-year government term, the additional discretionary revenue we would raise and our overall spend. The second balance sheet gives the combined current and capital spends in key departments.
In undertaking this work, we were conscious of the need to be prudent and not promise people what cannot be delivered. Over the last few months, the government has caused uncertainty by announcing different numbers on fiscal space and targets. We are allowing in our balance sheets for 2017-2021 both contingency current spending and capital spending budgets. The budget room available over the next five years will be determined by economic growth and stability, something only Sinn Féin can provide.
We have not included the possible additional €1 billion – €1.5 billion that may be available in 2019 due to the Commission’s revision of the medium term objectives. It is just not possible for any political party to predict all future expenditure pressures or fluctuations in growth, so we are treating this money as a contingency fund and it is our intention to allocate 1 billion in capital investment from it.
|Balance sheet 2017-2021 € million|
|Savings in public spending||€366.65|
|Total spend available||€10,682|
|Unallocated capital/current expenditure||-€1,225.47|
|Headline current and capital* spending|
|(*Capital spend for 2017-2021 is €3.1bn, which equates to a cumulative capital spend off €7,390m)|
John and Áine are married and live in Donegal. John works as a forklift driver, earning €40,000 per year and Áine works in a nursing home, earning €20,000 per year. They have two children: Seán, aged 19 and Sarah, aged 13.
Better off with Sinn Féin by €4,736 per year on average
Michael, 24, is an engineering graduate of NUIG and is currently looking for a job.
Better off with Sinn Féin by between €1,154 and €3,212 per year
Donal and Mary live in Dublin and own their own home. Donal is a self-employed carpenter, earning €40,000 per year. They have a 15-year-old son, Shane.
Better off with Sinn Féin by between €586 and €886 per year
Josephine, 76, is in receipt of the State pension and lives in Cork City.
Better off with Sinn Féin by between €1,198 and €2,049 per year
Mary is 50 and is single. She lives in rented accommodation in Navan and her adult children live abroad. She works 30 hours per week in a local shop and earns the minimum wage.
Bliain mhór atá ann do mhuintir na hÉireann in 2016 nó 100 bliain ó Éirí Amach na Cásca atá ann. Gheall Poblacht na hÉireann, a fógraíodh in 1916, go lorgfaí sonas agus rath an náisiúin uile agus a codanna go léir, ag cumhdach leanaí uile an náisiúin go cothrom. Ina croílár tá an tuairim go bhfuil gach duine neamhspleách agus comhionann.
Is é atá sa doiciméad stairiúil sin léiriú soiléir intinne ar son Phoblacht uile-Éireann bunaithe ar dhúshraith na saoirse sibhialta agus creidimh, na córa sóisialta agus an chomhionannais do gach saoránach. Is é go fóill ráiteas misin phoblachtánachais na hÉireann inniu agus is iad na prionsabail seo a threoraíonn sinn go fóill.
Creideann Sinn Féin go bhfuil bunchearta ag saoránaigh a bhfuil sé de dhualgas ar rialtas iad a chur ar fáil – an ceart ar bhaile; an ceart ar chúram sláinte fónta; an ceart ar oideachas; an ceart ar shlándáil; an ceart ar chomhionannas is cuma cá rugadh thú nó cad é do chúlra, do thuairimí nó do ghnéasacht; an ceart atá ag daoine a bhfuil míchumas acu páirt iomlán agus neamhspleách a bheith acu i ngach gné den saol; a ceart atá ag daoine óga maireachtáil agus bheith ag obair ina dtír féin; agus an ceart ar athaontú na hÉireann.
Deir Fine Gael agus an Lucht Oibre go bhfuil téarnamh ar siul. Má tá, ni téarnamh cothrom é. Is téarnamh ar dhá leibhéal é, atá chun a leas féin agus leas a gcairde ag an mbarr, ní bunús shaoránaigh na hÉireann a oibríonn go crua.
In áit a ngealltanais maidir le réabhlóid dhaonlathach a chur i gcrích, is é a thug cinneadh i ndiaidh cinnidh ón rialtas seo anord do na céadta míle teaghlach ar fud na tíre. Is léir nach bhfuil aon réiteach ag Fine Gael agus ag an Lucht Oibre ar an ngéarchéim a spreag siad i dtithíocht agus i sláinte agus tá sé suntasach nuair a d’athraigh Fine Gael óna bplean 5 phointe go dtí plean 3 chéim gur lig siad don tsláinte titim ar fad.
Anois is mian le Enda Kenny an tír a thabhairt ar ais go dtí polasaithe místuama borradh agus cliseadh Fhiann Fáil. Is mian leis ciorruithe cánach a thabhairt isteach a bheidh chun leas na ndaoine is saibhre agus a chinnteoidh go leanfaidh anord ar aghaidh do gach duine eile.
Tá fís an-éagsúil ag Sinn Féin.
Tá plean ag Sinn Féin le haghaidh téarnamh cothrom a mhéadóidh an geilleagar agus a thabharfaidh cobhsaíocht don ghnáth-theaghlach. Sin an fáth gurb é ár gcéadtosaíocht agus sinn i rialtas táillí uisce agus an cháin mhaoine a chur ar ceal agus gach duine atá ag saothrú íosphá a ghlacadh amach as an Muirear Seirbhíse Uilíoch.
Tá plean ag Sinn Féin le haghaidh cúram sláinte atá bunaithe ar an mbundearcadh nár cheart go séanfaí ar dhaoine, mar gheall ar gan a bheith in ann íoc, rochtain ná an deis saol iomlán, fada, sláintiúil a bheieth acu.
Tá an córas sláinte ag teip ar dhaoine gach lá mar is córas thar a bheith éagothrom ar dhá leibhéal, poiblí agus príobháideach. Mar gheall ar phríobháidiú sláinte ag Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael agus an Lucht Oibre is beag gné anois dár gcóras sláinte atá uilíoch. Tá muintir na hÉireann anois ag íoc níos mó agus ag fáil níos lú.
Le cúram sláinte uilíoch a chur ar fáil caithfimid cumas a mhéadú sa chóras agus caiteachas poiblí a chur go céimnitheach in áit caiteachas ag baill an phobail
Thar shaolré an chéad rialtais eile tá leagtha amach againn plean bliain ar bhliain le bogadh ó chóras sláinte ar dhá leibhéal i dtreo cúram sláinte uilíoch, atá saor ag an bpointe seachadta agus mar a bhfuil rochtain bunaithe ar riachtanas amháin.
Tá plean againn le haghaidh tithíochta. Níor tharla an ghéarchéim atá againn i dtithíocht de thaisme. Tharla sí mar ghlac Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael agus Lucht Oibre an cinneadh deireadh a chur le freagracht dhíreach an stáit i leith freastal ar riachtanais tithíochta. Thug polasaí tithíochta ar láimh d’fhorbróirí príobháideacha agus tiarnaí talún príobháideacha. Praiseach costasach a bhí sa pholasaí seo.
Dhiúltaigh siad infheistiú i dtithíocht shóisialta agus inacmhainne agus anois tá 90,000 teaghlach go hoifigiúil ar liostaí feithimh údarás áitiúil. Dhiúltaigh siad déileáil le cíosanna san earnáil phríobháideach agus mar gheall air sin d’ardaigh cíosanna níos gaiste in 2015 ná ag aon am eile le linn an bhorrtha.
Creideann Sinn Féin go bhfuil sé ar cheann de na bunchearta i sochaí ar bith an ceart ar bhaile agus sin an fáth go bhfuilimid tiomanta 100,000 baile sóisialta agus inacmhainne a thógáil. Is gealltanas é seo a bhfuil sé de rún againn a chur i gcrích.
Don chéad uair ó bunaíodh an Stát seo tá deis ann rialtas forásach a thoghadh agus is mian le Sinn Féin bheith mar chuid den rialtas sin. Leagtar amach san fhorógra seo sonraí an mhéid is mian linn a chur i gcrích. Tá sé tógtha ar an dúshraith inár mbuiséid mhalartacha agus inár bpleananna mionsonraithe le haghaidh sláinte, tithíochta, cúram leanaí, thuath na hÉireann agus eacnamaíocht Aontas na hÉireann.
Tá cleachas costála dian déanta againn leis an Roinn Airgeadais agus an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe le roinnt míonna anuas le costais don doiciméad seo a oibriú amach. Leagtar amach sa chéad cheann den dá chlár comhardaithe seo a leanas an spás buiséadach nó an spás fioscach atá ar fáil i rith téarma rialtais cúig bliana, an t-ioncam breise roghnach a thógaimis agus ár gcaiteachas foriomlán. Sa dara bileog tugtar na caiteachais reatha agus caipitil chomhcheangailte i bpríomhranna.
Agus sinn ag tabhairt faoin obair seo, bhíomar aireach ar an ngá bheith stuama agus gan aon rud nach féidir a thabhairt a gheallúint do dhaoine. Le roinnt míonna anuas, tá anord agus neamhchinnteacht spreagtha ag an rialtas trí uimhreacha éagsúla a fhógairt maidir le spás fioscach agus spriocanna. Táimid ag fágáil áite inár gcláir comhardaithe do 2017-2021 do buiséid do chaiteachas teagmhasach reatha agus caiteachas caipitiúil araon. Beidh an spás buiséadach a bheidh ar fáil sna cúig bliana seo romhainn socraithe ag fás eacnamaíoch agus ag cobhsaíocht, rudaí nach féidir ach Sinn Féin a chur ar fáil.
Níor chuireamar san áireamh €1-€1.5 billiún sa bhreis a d’fhéadfadh bheith ar fáil in 2019, mar gheall ar athbhreithniú an Choimisiúin ar chuspóirí sa mheántéarma. Níl sé indéanta, go díreach, do pháirtí polaitiúil gach brú caiteachais nó athrú san fhás amach anseo a thuar, mar sin táimid ag caitheamh leis an airgead seo mar chiste teagmhasach agus nílimid á leithroinnt.
|Clár comhardaithe 2017-2021 € milliún|
|Coigilteas sa chaiteachas poiblí||€366.65|
|Caiteachas iomlán ar fáil||€10,682|
|Caipitil neamh dháilte/caiteachas reatha||-€1,225.47|
|Caiteachas ceannlíne reatha agus caipitiúil|
|(*Is é caiteachas caipitiúil 2017-2021 de spás fioscach €3.1 billiún, arb ionann é agus caiteachas caipitiúil carnach €7.39 billiún)|
Le Sinn Féin, idir €504 agus €5,664 sa bhliain níos fearr as
Tá John agus Áine pósta agus cónaí orthu i nDún na nGall. Tá John ag obair mar thiománaí forcardaitheora, ag saothrú €40,000 per annum agus tá Áine ag obair i dteach altranais, ag saothrú €20,000 sa bhliain. Tá beirt leanaí acu; Seán atá 19 mbliana d’aois agus Sarah atá 13 bliana d’aois.
Le Sinn Féin, €4,736 sa bhliain níos fearr as
Is céimí innealtóireachta ó NUIG é Micheál, 24, agus tá sé ag lorg poist faoi láthair.
Le Sinn Féin, idir €586 agus €886 sa bhliain níos fearr as
Tá Josephine, 76, ag fáil an phinsin Stáit agus tá cónaí uirthi i gCathair Chorcaí.
Le Sinn Féin, idir €1,154 agus €3,212 sa bhliain níos fearr as
Tá cónaí ar Dhónal agus Mary i mBaile Átha Cliath agus is leo a dteach féin. Is saor adhmaid féinfhostaithe é Dónal, ag saothrú €40,000 sa bhliain. Tá mac acu, Shane, atá 15 bliana d’aois.
Le Sinn Féin, idir €1,198 agus €2,049 sa bhliain níos fearr as
Tá Mary 50 bliain d’aois. Tá cónaí uirthi i lóistín ar cíos ar a Uaimh, agus tá a leanaí lánfhásta ina gcónaí thar lear. Oibríonn sí 30 uair sa tseachtain i siopa áitiúil agus saothraíonn sí an t-íosphá.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, support for republican ideals is growing. People are hungry for real change. The 1916 Rising was a defining event in our history and the Proclamation is the defining document in the history of Irish republicanism.
Our task is to apply its principles to the Ireland of today and to achieve the united Ireland of Equals promised in the Proclamation.
Sinn Féin is seeking a new, agreed and united Ireland. We want to build a just, fair and equal Ireland – an economically prosperous and socially and culturally inclusive Ireland. We want to protect our most vulnerable – the elderly, children, the ill, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities – and ensure that equality is the touchstone upon which all policies are formulated.
The republican vision of a united Ireland is based on the principles of equality, inclusion and sovereignty. There can be no place for sectarianism, exclusion or discrimination.
The government parties have done immense damage to the Irish language as a living language. Their policies and approach are hostile and their time in office has been synonymous with a lack of stewardship, leadership or support for the language.
The government’s failure to support the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga forced him to resign and Dearg le Fearg saw tens of thousands take to the streets in support of Irish language rights. The government parties’ hostility to the language was further evidenced by their ill-fated use of Google Translate on the official 1916 Commemorative website in November 2014. They also made severe cuts to the budgets of Údarás na Gaeltachta and Foras na Gaeilge at a time of crisis in the Gaeltacht in terms of falling numbers of Irish language speakers living there. They failed to implement the Irish Language 20 Years Strategy and maintained a derogation of the status of the Irish Language in the EU.
Sinn Féin, by contrast, is dedicated to the restoration of the Irish language as the spoken language among the majority of the people in Ireland and its prominence in a multilingual society.
In government, Sinn Féin will deliver on Conradh na Gaeilge plan ‘Investment in the Irish language and Gaeltacht from 2016 onwards’.
Tá dochar mór déanta ag páirtithe an rialtais don Ghaeilge mar theanga bheo. Tá a bpolasaithe agus a gcur chuige naimhdeach agus le linn a gcuid ama in oifig bhí easpa maoirseachta, ceannaireachta nó tacaíochta ann don teanga.
Mar gheall ar theip an rialtais tacaíocht a thabhairt d’Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga b’éigean dó éirigh. Nuair a bhí Dearg le Fearg ann tháinig na mílte amach ar na sráideanna ag tacú le cearta Gaeilge. Fianaise eile ar naimhdeas pháirtithe an rialtais i leith na teamga ba a an praiseach a rinne siad nuair a d’úsáid siad Google Translate ar shuíomh gréasan oifigiúil comórtha 1916 i mí na Samhna 2014. Rinne siad ciorruithe déine chomh maith ar bhuiséad Údarás na Gaeltachta agus ar bhuiséad Fhoras na Gaeilge ag am géarchéime sa Ghaeltacht maidir le líon na gcainteoirí Gaeilge a chónaíonn ansin a bheith ag titim. Theip orthu Straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge a chur i bhfeidhm agus choinnigh siad maolú ar stádas na Gaeilge san AE.
Tá Sinn Féin, áfach, tiomanta don Ghaeilge a athréimniú mar theanga labhartha i measc fhormór na ndaoine in Éirinn agus í a bheith i lár an aonaigh is sochaí ilteangach.
Má thoghtar chun an rialtais iad chuirfeadh Sinn Féin an maoiniú ar fáil agus díreodh siad ar scéimeanna a mholtar i bplean Chonradh na Gaeilge, Infheistíocht sa Ghaeilge agus sa Ghaeltacht ó 2016 ar aghaidh.
We will protect and restore the entire Moore Street terrace, numbers 10-25, as the site of the last act of the 1916 Easter Rising. Sinn Féin has argued for decades that commemorating and properly marking the Rising will be valuable to us in terms of our own historical heritage but also as a means of attracting and educating tourists about our past and present. We have allowed for a €1 billion discretionary capital fund, over the term of government, to finance any additional investment needed in projects such as this.
Promoting equality and human rights is at the very core of republicanism and of Sinn Féin’s agenda for change. We campaigned in support of the Marriage Equality Referendum and for language rights. We also brought forward a number of key pieces of equality legislation, including a Bill to recognise the ethnicity of the Traveller community and we published a major report on Direct Provision. We believe that all human rights – including economic and social rights – can and must be enforceable. We are committed to a range of proposals to strengthen equality and human rights protections and to move us closer towards full equality for women, children, older people, people with disabilities, people of all ethnicities and lesbian/ gay/bisexual and transgender people.
We are committed to the establishment of an enforceable All-Ireland Charter of Rights, as promised under the Good Friday Agreement.
As a small island, it is important that Ireland spreads its diplomatic net as wide as possible in order to maximise international influence and push key foreign affairs priorities. Sinn Féin is committed to an independent and progressive Irish international relations policy, one that will prioritise neutrality, human rights, mutually beneficial trade, development, international law, and equality.
Recent governments have been totally deferential to the EU and its most powerful member states. Sinn Féin in government will seek to build relationships with other member states on the basis of equality and to provide leadership for those who are opposed to the Austerity agenda of the EU. In particular we will: * uphold the right of democratically elected governments to decide their social and economic priorities in the interests of their own people. * seek to return powers to EU member states and increase the influence of member state parliaments in the EU legislative process. * support reforms of the EU which are aimed at reducing the power of the European Commission, making it more transparent and accountable to the European and member state parliaments; and increasing the influence of smaller member states. * seek a growth and investment oriented policy of the EU, aimed at creating jobs and at defending workers’ pay and conditions. * seek to maximise EU support for the Irish peace process and Irish unity.
In its now infamous five-point plan Fine Gael promised the electorate that it would overhaul the political system and stamp out the cronyism that had become the norm under Fianna Fáil. This was to prove an empty promise and has been dropped from Fine Gael’s latest three-step-plan. The Taoiseach’s attempts to get a seat for John McNulty in the Seanad and the eleventh hour circumvention of the public process by the Tánaiste to appoint David Begg chair of the Pensions Authority are just two examples of many that show cronyism is alive and well in Fine Gael and the Labour Party. We have watched for decades as a circle of wealthy and well connected, seemingly teflon elites, have protected and enriched themselves through boom times and recessions alike at huge cost to the Irish people.
People have become justifiably disillusioned with politicians and the political system. Sinn Féin believes politicians should be accountable to the people they serve. We will bring about a new culture of transparency and accountability in politics.
We need a recovery that is fair and sustainable. The current recovery is neither.
Purchasing a home is again out of the reach of the average family because of a lack of housing supply, yet we have little work being created for the 150,000 construction workers who lost their jobs during the economic crisis.
Hundreds more of our most vulnerable citizens are being forced to endure treatment on hospital trolleys in emergency departments.
And hundreds of thousands of families are being ripped off by banks that are refusing to pass on interest rate savings to mortgage holders.
All of these woes are symptoms of the pursuit of unfair and unsustainable economic policies by Fine Gael and Labour, parties that have merely perpetuated the short-term boom and bust policies of Fianna Fáil.
Instead of investing in our economy and ensuring all citizens are afforded a decent quality of life and the opportunity of a good job, the priority of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil is to cut taxes that benefit the rich to the detriment of the average worker – the same type of policies that led to the economic crisis in the first place.
The Department of Finance has forecast economic growth of 4.3% for 2016 and growth is expected to average around 3% per annum thereafter.
We are conscious that these growth figures are vulnerable to negative external factors that may affect Ireland’s spending capabilities, given that we operate within the parameters of European Union fiscal rules.
Extremely favourable external conditions are the primary drivers of current growth in the economy; in particular the sharp decline in the value of the Euro against Sterling and the US Dollar, historically low interest rates across Europe and a collapse in international oil prices over the past twelve months.
The austerity agenda of Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and the Troika played no hand, act or part in bringing about the economic green shoots we are currently witnessing. All their cutbacks achieved were a prolonging of the economic crisis, the decimation of public services and a widening gap of economic and social inequality.
By contrast, our priorities will be to bring fairness, stability and sustainability to economic policy development. We will ensure the economy serves society, not the other way around, and we will prioritise investment in employment and build a fair tax system.
Sinn Féin stands for Irish sovereignty and the right of Irish governments to make economic choices in the best interests of the Irish people.
We opposed the Fiscal (Austerity) Treaty because we knew that the rules set out in it were not in Ireland’s interests, involved a loss of economic sovereignty and had the potential to act as a serious impediment to any future government taking the type of decisions that are needed.
We have been proved correct. The acceptance of the Treaty has tied our hands significantly. We will continue to challenge these rules and build support at EU level for their re-negotiation.
In the shorter term we will work to achieve the type of flexibilities to these rules that have been afforded to other States within the EU.
The following sections set out our commitments on jobs, workers’ rights, taxation, public sector pay, social protection, mortgages, the banking sector banking and debt.
Long-term economic recovery can only be secured through the creation of good jobs and the development of an innovative indigenous enterprise sector.
Our priority is the creation of decent jobs with decent pay and to deliver for our Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. There are 192,000 small- and medium-sized businesses across the State, employing over 860,000 people; these businesses are the driving force of economic activity in the State.
We will set ambitious targets for regionally balancing foreign investment and delivering an integrated enterprise policy that maximises the growth potential of domestic entrepreneurs and businesses.
The Department of Finance have forecast increases in employment based on expected growth in core domestic demand for the period from 2017 to 2021 of 187,969 jobs. These jobs will be created regardless of policy changes. Our jobs plan will mean ultimately in the region of 250,000 jobs will be created.
We will use the budget room available over the next five years to invest heavily in capital projects, to deliver tens of thousands of jobs and to fill infrastructural needs in water, housing, schools, health, broadband and transport. Our current spending will also create jobs in frontline services and act as a stimulus for job creation in the private sector.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of low pay in the OECD and of underemployment in the European Union. Short-hour, low-paid, insecure and precarious work is on the rise, putting undue pressure on workers and their families, who are unable to plan childcare and their finances from week to week.
In advance of the 1918 general election, Sinn Féin produced a handbill declaring: ‘That where Irish resources are being developed or where industries exist, Sinn Féiners shall make it their business to secure that workers are paid a Living Wage.’
A century later, the fundamental aspirations of workers remain the same – fair pay, secure hours and adequate safeguards against exploitation. Women, migrant workers and young people remain particularly vulnerable to ill-treatment in the workplace, with those working in the retail, hospitality and care sectors faring the worst. We are determined to create jobs that are long- term, sustainable, decent paying and that recognise trade union rights.
Under the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements there are common sense and practical proposals to develop cross border links. This is to the mutual benefit of everyone. Even within the current constitutional arrangements these need to be developed. Sinn Féin in government, north and south will champion such an approach.
There are no advantages for an island nation of 6.4 million people in having two separate tax regimes, two currencies, two public service systems and two separate, competing economies. We would all be better off with a single economy within Ireland. A United Ireland would grow the economy north and south. There are many examples in which a better service has been delivered through an all- Ireland approach, e.g., marketing the island as a whole for tourism, the joint cancer centre in Derry and the delivery of paediatric cardiac care from Dublin on an all-Ireland basis. The Narrow Water Bridge and the A5 upgrade are other examples of projects that would be to our mutual benefit.
Recent academic reports have found that there would be a boost of up to €35.6 billion in GDP for the island of Ireland in the first eight years of economic unification. This underlines the importance of pursuing greater integration of our economies. In government we will advance the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Report on the All-Island Economy.
Sinn Féin in government will deliver a fair tax system. We will ease the tax burden on the average worker, including those who are self-employed, and asking those who earn the most to pay their fair share.
We view the tax system as a whole. Tax is not just confined to your payslip. Other taxes such as VAT, Water Charges and the Local Property Tax form part of the system and impact on peoples pay.
To illustrate how unfair our tax system is, of the €5.5 billion in tax breaks given in 2012, the Revenue Commissioners estimate that 53% of these went to the top 10% of earners.
The abolition of the Universal Social Charge in its entirety will only add to this unfairness as this move benefits the better off a lot more than someone on an ordinary wage. For example, Enda Kenny, who earns €183,350, will gain €12,210 from the abolition of the USC. Fine Gael’s proposed reductions will put more money in the pockets of higher earners, reducing the availability of money that could and should be spent on reducing waiting times in A&E departments, hiring speech and language therapists to benefit children, and hiring more gardaí and teachers.
We are committed to increased investment in public services. In health, education, and local government, cuts have put huge pressure on those working in frontline services. Public sector workers have taken pay cuts of up to 14% on average, with reduced terms and conditions of employment.
We are committed to decent work for decent pay and to reducing the gap between wages at the top and the bottom.
The Lansdowne Road Agreement is imperfect, but it does give something back to those on low and middle incomes. In government, we will honour the agreement. We also intend reducing the pay of those in the public sector who earn over €2,000 a week to bring equality to the system and to protect lower earning public sector workers.
Social protection payments exist to support and protect the most vulnerable in our society.
Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil all used their terms in office to introduce cuts that have impacted severely on those most in need, while the bankers and their friends who caused Ireland’s economic problems got off scot free.
When it mattered, Fianna Fáil targeted the young and the old and cut child benefit. Fine Gael and Labour subsequently promised to protect citizens in receipt of social welfare payments but did the same and worse with their cradle to the grave cuts – from Maternity Benefit to the Bereavement Grant. They cut young people’s Jobseekers’ Allowance further and deeper than their predecessor and, most cruelly, cut the Respite Care Grant.
The numbers experiencing two or more types of enforced deprivation, i.e. having to go without basics such as a warm waterproof coat, heating for their home, nutritious food or even minimal social opportunities, has increased from 11.8% in 2007 to 29%, and the number of people living in consistent poverty has almost doubled.
The Homemakers Disregard Scheme seeks to protect the pension rights of people who have left the workforce for a period of time in order to care for a young child or person with an illness or disability. It is limited to years spent as a homemaker after April 1994 and thousands of women, including those who were subject to the civil service ‘marriage bar’, are excluded. Sinn Féin requested a costing from the Department on the extension of the scheme to cover periods of homemaking prior to 1994 but the Department responded that they could not provide an estimate.
Joan Burton promised to introduce a more expansive Homemakers Credit Scheme, but instead instituted reforms to the pension system that disproportionately hurt these very same women. The government introduced new rate bands, resulting in new pensioners facing cuts of up to €1,497 per year. Not surprisingly, it is women, in our pension system, who will bear the brunt of these latest cuts.
The latest Central Bank figures from the third quarter of 2015 tell us that 92,291 family homes are in arrears. Shockingly, the figures also show that four families a day are losing their homes.
Fine Gael and Labour have acted shamefully from the beginning of the mortgage crisis. Time after time they have sided with the banks against struggling homeowners. In one of their most shameful acts, they changed the law to make it easier for banks to repossess family homes and worked with the Central Bank to weaken the Code of Conduct so that banks could put more pressure on homeowners; all while their schemes to prevent repossessions or so-called voluntary surrenders have been abysmal failures.
We gave a guarded welcome to the introduction of mortgage cap lending rules by the Central Bank. Though the role of mortgages in the economic collapse has been overstated, reform was needed. However, better wages and a greater supply of social housing to keep house prices down have an important role to play in making homes affordable.
After the disastrous Fianna Fáil decisions of 2008/2009, the Irish people became owners and part-owners of five banks. The infamous Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide were beyond all repair, yet the State rescued them at a cost of €34 billion. The other rescued banks – AIB, Permanent TSB and Bank of Ireland – survived, albeit with their reputations in tatters and only because of the taxpayer. The €30 billion taxpayers paid for these banks was only an upfront cost; the knock-on costs of accompanying austerity remain with us today and have damaged society severely.
Despite being owned by the State, these banks have acted appallingly – evicting thousands of families, ripping off many more by moving them off tracker mortgages and by refusing to pass on ECB interest rate cuts.
The State currently owns 14% of Bank of Ireland, 75% of Permanent TSB and over 99% of AIB. These holdings are economic and strategic assets. In particular, the handling of the State’s ownership of AIB is one of the biggest questions that will face the next government.
For Sinn Féin, the question is not when we should we sell AIB, but whether we should sell what is now a profitable bank. The State is now receiving dividends from the profits AIB makes. Any windfall from selling the bank can only be used to write down debt, which may lead to a saving on debt interest, but those savings can be more than offset by the receipt of annual dividends and the benefits of having a State bank investing in the domestic economy.
In their Programme for Government, Fine Gael and Labour said they respected the ethos of the Credit Union movement and recognised that Credit Unions are different to the banks. However, since 2011 Credit Unions have been subjected to unprecedented restrictions and limitations. The Credit Union movement has stood with the people through years of hardship and the Irish people have stood with it. The more than 2.9 million members in 352 credit unions across the State have in excess of €11 billion in savings, €3.5 billion on loan and more than €13 billion in total assets. Now is the time to allow Credit Unions to do even more in our communities and for our communities.
The Irish debt/GDP ratio is currently 99.7%. That means we owe debtors almost as much as every person and company in the state earns per year. In 2015, we spent €7.1 billion servicing interest on our debt. To put this in perspective, the total tax take for 2015 was €45.6 billion. That means for every €1 in tax paid, 16 cent went towards servicing interest payments.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have repeatedly put the interest of banks before that of the economy, of society and of working families. €64 billion of taxpayers’ money was poured into the banks, yet families in mortgage distress and struggling small businesses have been left to fend for themselves.
Our health system is in a state of crisis. The current government, and Fianna Fáil before them, have presided over a two-tier, failing health service that leaves the elderly without dignity on hospital trolleys, patients waiting years for badly needed medical procedures, and children without the therapies required to walk, talk and reach their potential.
This crisis can be boiled down to two key failings on the part of successive governments: first, an extreme depth of fundamental inequality in how patients are treated, differentiated on ability to pay and location; and second, the incapacity of the system to deal with demographic pressures, evidenced particularly in our Emergency Departments and maternity care.
This is not acceptable. Inability to pay should not deny anyone the opportunity to lead a full, long, healthy life.
Having squandered five years in government, Fine Gael and Labour finally jettisoned their ill-advised plan for Universal Health Insurance and they have no alternative, no solution. Fianna Fáil plan to throw a little bit more money into the existing inefficient and unfair system, without reform. This would be throwing good money after bad.
Universal Health Care, not Universal Health Insurance, is the solution.
Sinn Féin has a costed and credible plan to deliver world class universal healthcare, as detailed in the recently published policy document ‘Better for Health’. By progressively replacing private spending by members of the public with public spending, allied with better stewarding of spending, we can achieve much greater efficiency and fairness. We can deliver more for the same. In government we will implement this plan and will be joined by partners across the health system with which we share this most vital objective. The Irish people deserve nothing less.
Fine Gael and Labour have caused chaos in housing. They failed to invest in social and affordable housing, so there are now officially 89,872 households on local authority waiting lists. They failed to deal with rents in the private sector and caused rents to increase faster in 2015 than at any time during the boom. They failed to deal with exorbitant variable mortgage interest rates, pushing families into arrears. They facilitated the mass sell-off of properties by NAMA to international speculators and vulture funds. They failed to deal with the consequences of bad quality materials and dodgy building practices during the boom, leaving thousands of families in crisis. In Budget 2016, they allocated €17 million to tackle the emergency homeless crisis. In the same budget, they allocated €28 million to increase the amount in tax free gifts and inheritances.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour handed housing policy over to private developers. This policy has been a disaster. We now have a national emergency and we need a national response. Solving the housing crisis requires political will. Housing will be one of Sinn Féin’s key priorities in government.
*Mortgages are dealt with in a separate section of this manifesto.
Communities across this State have felt the serious impact of cutbacks to An Garda Síochána delivered by Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil since 2010. Garda numbers are down and 139 garda stations have been closed. Elderly people and families in rural communities in particular are living in fear. Morale in the force is at an all-time low, due to scandals arising from profound management failings and an abdication of responsibility for oversight by successive governments.
Our penal system also needs to be reformed. The latest available figures show it costs €68,959 per annum to imprison one person. Repeat offending is facilitated by a prison system that fails in its vital rehabilitative role to our society. Sentencing is inconsistent.
There is much work to do.
Fine Gael and Labour have seriously damaged education in Ireland. They have removed supports for children with special needs so they have less time with their Special Needs Assistants and Resource Teachers. They have increased student fees and removed many grant supports, forcing many third-level students to drop out and leave their courses. They cut funding to schools, which resulted in students being taught in overcrowded classrooms. Principals are finding it more and more difficult to cover the basic costs of running a school, including paying for light, heat and insurance. In many cases, parents have to make up the shortfall.
Teachers who cannot secure full-time employment are told to teach in JobBridge positions. Teaching principals are overworked and are only given minimal time to engage in the tasks required for running a school. Many teachers at third level are employed in low paid, insecure positions. Guidance counselling services in schools have been cut dramatically, leaving students from less well-off backgrounds at a major disadvantage. Huge numbers of children are regularly excluded from their local school on the basis of their religion. Yet the government continues to subsidise private schools with millions in taxpayers’ money, further entrenching educational inequalities and a two-tier system. Moves are being made to progressively increase the role of corporate interests in third- level institutions.
Sinn Féin believes that education is a basic and fundamental human right and should be available to everyone on the basis of full equality and that academic freedom must be protected.
Sinn Féin sees childcare as a public service for both children and parents. When it works, a State’s childcare system can be a huge employer; help with the health and mental development of our youngest children; facilitate parents, especially women, to access the workforce; and be a positive component of economic growth. This government, like the last, has paid lip-service to the area of childcare. Under its watch, the average cost of childcare in Ireland ranges between €800 and €1,100 per month for a single child, depending on location. Those who can avail of it do so at crippling costs and those who can’t are forced to remove themselves from the labour market altogether, or rely on one income to sustain the family. For employees in the system, childcare work is low-paid with little recognition of the skills involved or the dedication required. Rather than providing its maximum potential for employment, the sector faces a mass exodus as other areas of the economy recover and offer more in wages than the bare minimum.
Sinn Féin is committed to reaching the State’s renewable energy targets for 2020. The State has committed to generating 16% of its overall energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. Sinn Féin will introduce measures to grow renewable energy production and to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions. This will require involvement from the State and at community level.
In addition, in this term of government, we want to address the issue of flood defences. Our capital expenditure commitment for water and flood investment is outlined in our jobs section.
Communities throughout the State depend heavily on publicly-supported initiatives and programmes. Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the privatisation of local community services, with the consequent risk not only to jobs and working conditions but to the services that have been provided to date.
Funding for the Local Community Development Programme has been slashed by over 40% since 2008. The overall community and voluntary sector is worth billions to the economy, employs tens of thousands of people, and encompasses around 7,500 charitable, community and voluntary groups, which provide essential services to children, older people, people with disabilities or ill health, drug users, women and Travellers.
We also see sport as having a vital role in developing communities and want to ensure that investment is made in recreational sport first and foremost at community level; and that all sporting bodies, particularly at professional level, are properly funding and governed.
Fianna Fáil, followed in turn by Fine Gael and the Labour Party, all promised to protect and prioritise people with disabilities. In power, they did the opposite. The budget for Disability Services was drastically decreased, the Mobility Allowance scheme was closed, the annual Respite Care Grant was slashed by almost 20 per cent, and funding for the Housing Adaptation Grant was more than halved. Disability Allowance, Household Benefits Package and Fuel Allowance were all reduced. Educational supports, including Resource Teachers and SNAs, have been diminished. Medical cards were targeted and the mainstream public services upon which those with disabilities disproportionately depend were decimated.
The outcome of these austerity policies for people with disabilities and their families has been devastating. People with disabilities remain more than twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the typical population and just 15% of people with an intellectual disability are in employment. The CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions published in 2015 shows that 53% of people who are not in work due to disability or illness are experiencing enforced deprivation. They cannot afford the very basics such as heating their homes, putting food on the table and buying appropriate clothing.
Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour have long since abandoned rural Ireland. It received little investment during the boom to redress the imbalance of failed policies, and the subsequent austerity policies have all but devastated rural counties. Cuts have hit communities, families, public services and the local economy. Austerity has taken away the opportunity for people to live and work in rural Ireland and has forced a generation to emigrate.
Local communities have been disempowered. Infrastructure has deteriorated as a result of severe cuts to regional and local budgets – affecting roads, broadband delivery and, most noticeably in recent times, flood protection. Garda stations have been closed. These closures, which have saved little money, have left elderly people in particular living in fear.
The creation of jobs has been impeded by a number of factors but particularly by the poor quality of infrastructure and a lack of focus by the enterprise development agencies.
Sinn Féin wants to make rural Ireland a sustainable place to live and work, where the quality of life is matched by the quality of public services; a place where young educated graduates have the opportunity to stay and build their future and a place that welcomes back emigrants, including those forced to leave over recent years.
The measures outlined below are just a small section of what we’ve outlined in detail in our more comprehensive policies on rural Ireland, particularly the most recent West of Ireland document, which also includes proposals for the islands.
The natural resources of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland. Our waters and our fish stocks are some of our most valuable strategic resources, however years of neglect and mismanagement by successive governments have thwarted the potential for a vibrant, sustainable and valuable fishing industry.
European regulations, rigidly and enthusiastically enforced by successive Irish governments, have hurt fishermen, held back our fishing industry and hampered economic growth in coastal communities.
Sinn Féin is determined to support a rejuvenated fishing industry that is environmentally sustainable and economically viable. Such an industry could act as an engine for growth and employment in communities up and down our coast, delivering a fair recovery for this neglected sector.
The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has provided great support for farmers. Unfortunately, many of its measures and how they are interpreted by Department officials in Ireland has made accessing CAP payments and adhering to programmes unnecessarily troublesome to farmers, particularly with regard to onsite inspections.
It is possible to introduce a system that ensures that our environment is protected and that consumers can continue to have full confidence in our produce without an excess of bureaucracy.
We have been calling for CAP simplification and particularly less burdensome site inspections involving longer periods of notice, introduction of a yellow card system, immediate reports of breaches and more proportionate penalties. Inspections must be carried out in a mutually respectful manner, aimed at improving farming methods and increasing compliance, not just at penalising farmers at every turn.
In June 2014, following a period of intensive consultation with farming stakeholders, Minister Michelle O’Neill outlined how the new Common Agriculture Policy will look for farmers in the North. In the new CAP, Minister O’Neill fought hard to ensure a more equitable and fair allocation of single farm payments. The successfully negotiated changes will see a short transition period of seven years towards flat rate payments. This will tackle years of imbalance, which particularly impacted on our hill farmers.
Minister O’Neill also brought forward a £250 million Farm Business Improvement Scheme and a Young Farmers’ Scheme to provide a financial incentive for our younger farmers, helping them make necessary adjustments and improvements to their farms. These decisions form part of the minister’s ‘Going For Growth’ strategy, which aims to create 15,000 new agri-food jobs, as well as growing exports and sales 60% by 2020.
This is what can be achieved with a Sinn Féin minister in charge.