Irish Republican News · May 16, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Election 2007: Sinn Féin Election Manifesto
Election 2007: Sinn Féin Election Manifesto

A MESSAGE FROM GERRY ADAMS

Ireland has changed greatly over the past decade. The Peace Process driven by Sinn Féin has delivered changes many never thought possible. In this State, the hard work of all our people has reversed economic decline, reduced unemployment dramatically, ended emigration and encouraged immigration.

As a consequence, Ireland is now more peaceful and economically prosperous than ever before.

But we still live in a divided Ireland. The gap has widened between those with massive wealth and those who must work long hours to house, clothe and feed themselves and their families. People in poverty and on the margins of society don’t share in the new prosperity. Minorities suffer discrimination.

And our country is still partitioned.

With so much wealth at our collective disposal, why are there still so many social problems? It’s because successive Governments have made the wrong choices. They have rewarded the greed of the few at the expense of the welfare of the people as a whole. They have abandoned housing policy to speculators and profiteers, so decent homes are now unaffordable for many thousands of people. They have further privatised our health services, worsening the two-tier divide and aggravating the crisis in our hard-pressed public hospital system. They refused to invest in our education system and make it more inclusive so that many are denied the full and equal access that is their right.

This government has also failed miserably as planners. As a result, economic development is concentrated in the east of the country and some regions still suffer major disadvantage despite the booming economy. Dublin is sprawling beyond control. Commuting has become a nightmare for most people. Agriculture and fisheries - and rural and coastal communities - are in accelerated decline. Our natural resources have been sold to the lowest bidder and our environment is under pressure as never before. Irish economic competitiveness is not secure; it is decreasing.

But it is not true that anything would be better than the current Government. It is not enough to say that this coalition has been in office for a decade and we need a change of personnel, because democracy is not just about parties taking turns. Far more is needed - a new vision, different policies and a genuine determination to build a secure future and a better quality of life for all, based on equality.

There is only one real alternative in this general election: Sinn Féin.

We are ready for Government, north and south. We have a vision and a plan for a prosperous country in which wealth is shared and where the promise of equal rights and equal opportunities is fulfilled for each and every person who lives on our island. We are the only party with a genuine commitment and a strategy to achieve a new republic that honours the vision of the 1916 Proclamation by pursuing ‘the prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally’. What does this mean in 2007? It means:

  • A United Ireland where all the people of our island look forward to a shared and peaceful future.

  • An Ireland of Equals where everyone’s rights are guaranteed, free of the divisions caused by partition, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination, and free from poverty and economic inequality.

  • A healthcare service providing equal access for everyone based on need alone.

  • Housing as a right for all.

  • An education system that allows Ireland to reach its full potential - that ensures every child full access to learning at all levels and ensures literacy and life-long learning for everyone.

  • Childcare for all who need it, to help raise family incomes, promote women’s right to equal pay, and enhance early childhood development.

  • A properly planned Ireland with improved quality of life for individuals, families and communities through efficient transport and other vital infrastructure, leisure facilities and working conditions that allow people to contribute time to their family, friends and neighbours.

  • A new commitment to protect the land, the waters, the air and the whole environment of Ireland, to ensure sustainable agriculture and fisheries, to reclaim our natural resources and to develop renewable energy to guarantee a future for our children.

  • An Ireland that opposes war and global exploitation and through a policy of positive neutrality, works for international peace and justice.

  • A strong economy that serves and protects our society - that offers more prosperity and more equality.

    This is the type of Ireland we are committed to build. To achieve these positive changes we will work as hard as we always have throughout the Peace Process, in our communities, in councils across the country, in the Assembly and in the Dail. For the past five years our five Sinn Féin TDs have provided leadership beyond their numbers. They have promoted the republican vision and worked with people throughout Ireland to create a new type of politics. Ireland needs more Sinn Féin TDs in the Dail to champion real change and to provide the most effective representation for our communities.

    This is your Ireland. It is your future. Only you can shape it for the better. Join us in that task by voting Sinn Féin.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Lasting Peace and Irish Unity

  • Complete a Green Paper on Irish Unity within one year, identifying steps and measures to promote and assist a successful transition to a United Ireland.

  • Appoint a Minister of State to co-ordinate the Government’s all-Ireland policies across Departments.

  • Introduce 6 County elected representation in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

  • Begin the process of co-ordinating economic development, service provision and planning on an all-Ireland basis.

  • Commence a specific process of outreach to the unionist community to involve them in this planning as equal partners.

  • Secure a referendum on Irish Unity to be held simultaneously, north and south.

    Equal Access to World Class Public Services

    Healthcare is a Right

  • Begin the transition to a new universal public health system for Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general, fair and progressive taxation.

  • Invest all health funding in the public system.

  • Immediately end tax breaks for private hospitals and the land gift allocation scheme.

  • Provide full medical cards for all under the poverty line and all under- 18s

  • Make all new hospital consultant posts public-only.

  • Develop a network of modern and accessible Primary Care Treatment Centres.

  • Make advanced screening services available locally, promptly and widely.

  • Deliver into the public hospital system the additional 3,000 hospital beds required.

  • Reverse cutbacks in services at local hospitals and configure all hospitals to ensure that emergency services are available as locally as possible.

  • Ring-fence at least 12% of the health budget for mental health services.

  • Produce a fully resourced, comprehensive All-Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy.

    Housing is a Right

  • Establish a Department of Housing with a full Minister.

  • Construct 70,000 new units by 2012 to accommodate social housing need.

  • Amend the Planning and Development Act (2002) to require that all new developments must allocate 30% to social and affordable housing, with at least 10% social and at least 10% affordable housing.

  • Eliminate street homelessness by the year 2010.

  • Increase mortgage interest relief for first time mortgage-holders and principle home owners who earn up to the average industrial wage.

  • Introduce a tenants’ rights charter.

  • Require all new social housing to be fitted with energy-efficient alternative energy sources.

  • Reform the planning laws to support the right of rural dwellers to build on their own land or to purchase and build locally.

  • Legislate to ensure services such as public transportation, healthcare centres, childcare centres and schools are incorporated into all housing schemes.

    Education and Childcare

  • Introduce a universal pre-school session of 3.5 hours per day, five days a week for all children aged 3-5 years.

  • Centralise childcare provision under a single Department.

  • Immediately reduce all class sizes for children under 9 to a maximum of 20 pupils.

  • End the use of prefab buildings within the lifetime of the next Dail.

  • Increase funding per pupil at pre-school and primary level so that expenditure will be more equal to that at third level, ensuring that schools in areas of high disadvantage receive proportionately more funding and resources.

  • Prioritise action on autism to ensure the earliest intervention for all who need it.

  • Keep the Irish language as a core subject at post-primary level.

  • Teach a second subject through Irish at primary school level eg PE or drama.

  • Launch a vigorous all-Ireland adult literacy campaign.

  • Assist schools and teachers to promote discipline in schools and ensure a positive learning environment.

    A Strong and Sustainable economy

    Strengthening the All-Ireland Economy

  • Adopt and implement an all-Ireland Economic Development Plan.

  • Ensure maximum all-Ireland co-ordination in the use of EU funds.

  • Begin an open debate on the benefits of one currency for the whole island.

  • Establish a public investment programme to ensure that Government departments and agencies proactively invest in historically neglected and underdeveloped areas to reverse the current imbalance. Infrastructure

  • An extensive expansion of an all-Ireland rail network on an accelerated basis.

  • Increase funding and provision of buses in rural areas. Provide 500 extra buses for Bus Atha Cliath.

  • Legislate and budget to ensure that all public transport is accessible to people with disabilities.

  • Build a North West Motorway/high speed dual carriageway serving the route from Dublin to Donegal/Derry.

  • Abolish road tolls.

  • Provide universal access to broadband on an all-Ireland basis.

  • Establish an all-Ireland mobile phone network, with reasonable all- Ireland tariffs.

  • Put an end to the artificial inflation of ESB prices.

  • Invest in the accelerated development of wind and wave energy production. Supporting Enterprise and Job Creation

  • Support the development of indigenous micro and small and medium enterprises (SME) and social economy enterprises.

  • Improve support for start-up businesses including provision of increased business advice, guidance and training plus dedicated management development.

  • Adopt an All-Ireland R&D Strategy including extra assistance to SMEs and new businesses to develop business plans for R&D.

  • Provide specific recycling depots for small business to enable them to reduce their waste management costs.

  • Initiate a specific Redundancy to Entrepreneurship scheme

  • Explore and pursue possibilities for establishing new profitable companies in public ownership, particularly in strategic sectors. Promoting Workers’Rights

  • Establish a Department of Labour with a full Minister.

  • Introduce a penalty points system against rogue employers who consistently violate labour law, with a range of penalties including a bar from eligibility for public contracts to removal from the companies register.

  • Increase regulation of the apprenticeship system and extend minimum wage legislation to cover apprentices.

  • Legislate to establish rights and entitlements for migrant workers equivalent to those of host society workers.

  • Immediately enact corporate manslaughter legislation.

    An Equal Economy, Where Wealth is Shared

    Raising Household Incomes

  • Double the Living Alone Allowance.

  • Increase the Family Income Supplement by O68 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.

    A New Emphasis on Non-Tax Revenue

  • Reform the current exploration licensing and taxation regime and renegotiate oil and gas contracts.

  • Establish a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company which would actively participate and invest in exploration.

  • Set a target for becoming a net exporter of electricity from renewable sources.

  • Keep the ESB and all other public companies in public ownership.

  • Negotiate at EU level for an exception to the EU State Aid Rules similar to that conceded to Germany, to assist post-partition reconstruction for reunification.

    Responsible Spending of Public Wealth in the Public Interest

  • Subject public spending not just to ‘value for money’ efficiency audits but also to regular effectiveness audits against social and economic goals.

  • Empower the Comptroller and Auditor General to examine all existing PPP projects for cost overruns, revenue foregone and wastage against long-term cost and profit projections.

  • Establish an All-Ireland Procurement and Purchasing Agency accountable to the Dail, Assembly and All-Ireland Ministerial Council to introduce greater efficiencies. Equality for Rural Communities

  • Make rural regeneration and balanced regional development a priority.

  • Immediately commission an All-Ireland Rural White Paper.

  • Actively promote and support entrepreneurship within rural communities, especially co-operative and other ‘social economy’ ventures.

  • Provide greater access to start-up incentives for rural businesses.

  • Reform the planning laws to support the right of rural dwellers to build on their own land or to purchase and build locally.

  • Enhance investment in rural public transport, and ensure planned delivery of an all-Ireland road and rail network, with a focus on accelerated development in the western and border regions. Revitalising Irish Agriculture

  • Ensure that the maximum number of people continue farming, while stemming the shift towards large scale factory style farming.

  • Oppose importation of cheap meat that fails to meet the strict food safety regulations imposed here.

  • Work to amend the Single Farm Payment regulations to raise the lower income limit and impose a higher income limit, in order to redirect EU funds and ensure a decent livelihood for smaller farmers.

  • Assist farm diversification into new areas eg organic farming and renewable energy.

  • Keep Ireland as a whole GM crop-free

  • Facilitate the conversion of the Carlow and Mallow sugar plants to biofuel production.

  • Give farmers adequate notice prior to farm inspections. A Sustainable Future for the Irish Fisheries

  • Establish a separate Ministry for the Marine and Natural Resources with a full Minister.

  • Negotiate radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, with the aim of returning the greater part of management of Irish fisheries back into Irish hands.

  • Introduce a transparent system of issuing of licences, quota and tonnage.

  • Conserve Irish fish stocks by reducing the quota available to foreign fleets and introduce proper independent scientific monitoring of stocks.

  • Ensure adequate compensation for Driftnet Salmon Fishermen.

    Community Safety

  • Establish a fully independent Garda Ombudsman, a Garda Board for civilian management oversight and Community Policing Partnerships.

  • Civilianise appropriate tasks to allow the redeployment of all fully trained Gardai to fight crime and serve their communities.

  • Establish a system of consistent victim liaison to ensure that victims, especially of violent crimes, are kept fully informed throughout the investigation and prosecution process.

  • Ensure more consistent prosecution of sexual assault, rape and domestic violence.

  • Adopt a comprehensive strategy to effectively combat anti-social behaviour including social investment in marginalised areas, early intervention for those at risk of offending, community policing and effective rehabilitation.

  • Introduce community restorative justice alternatives for most nonviolent offenders.

  • Ensure robust enforcement of the law and prosecution of offenders involved in criminal behaviour.

  • Repeal the Offences Against the State Acts and dissolve the Special Criminal Court

  • Continue to negotiate the establishment of an effective all-Ireland sex offenders registry.

    Strengthening Human Rights Protections

  • Introduce the All-Ireland Charter of Rights provided for under the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Adequately fund the Equality Authority and Equality Tribunal.

  • Adopt binding gender targets of at least 40% for each gender on the boards of all state and semi-state bodies, the judiciary, and the Cabinet.

  • Amend the 1937 Constitution to expressly recognise children’s rights.

  • Establish an Ombudsman for Older People.

  • Establish a Disability Strategy Implementation and Monitoring Unit within the Department of the Taoiseach, to set annual targets towards full delivery by 2016.

  • Reinstate previous funding levels for anti-racism initiatives and provide annual increases as necessary.

  • Repeal the sections of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002 that criminalise the Traveller way of life.

  • End the policy of dispersal and the Direct Provision System and extend the right to work and pay taxes to all asylum seekers while their applications are being processed.

  • Introduce legislation to permit and recognise same-sex marriage, to provide full and equal recognition of all civil partnerships in law and recognise the right of same-sex couples to adopt children in the same manner as heterosexual couples.

    A Better Quality of Life

    A Clean Environment is a Right

  • Campaign to secure the complete closure of Sellafield.

  • Ban the development of municipal incinerators in Ireland and set progressive time-framed targets to minimise waste going to landfill.

  • Introduce legislation to compel industrial and commercial producers of waste to reduce waste production in a planned, targeted and accountable manner.

  • Mandate and support all councils to produce waste reduction strategies including a minimum target of 50% recycling and introduce a total ban on disposal of compostable waste in landfills by 2010.

  • Support the introduction of 100% capital and maintenance grants for civic recycling initiatives.

  • Legislate to regulate for best practice environmental standards for all new buildings, and work towards the target of zero carbon homes by 2015.

  • Bring all water supplies up to the highest EU standard.

    A Serious Approach to the Drugs Crisis

  • Make adequate resources to Local Drugs Task Forces and Rural Drugs Task Forces.

  • Combat cocaine use and roll out cocaine treatment projects.

  • Introduce widespread and well-resourced drugs education programmes and awareness campaigns for children and parents.

  • Continue to work directly with families and communities worst-affected by drug and alcohol use and by the illegal drugs trade.

  • Commit adequate funding to significantly expand the availability of drug treatment and to eliminate waiting lists for treatment.

  • Provide additional supports for the families of drug users, such as grandparents caring for grandchildren.

  • Continue to pursue major drug traffickers and allocate funds seized from them for community development.

  • Increase the resources available to An Garda Siochana drugs units.

    Ag Cur an Ghaeilge ar ais i mBeal an Phobail

  • Implement the Official Languages Act 2003 in full.

  • Agree a 10 year All-Ireland Irish Language Development Plan focusing on the preservation and advancement of the language.

  • Enhance Irish medium education and Irish language learning.

  • Ensure that every member of the ‘New Irish’ community has the opportunity to learn Irish.

  • Allocate more funding to Foras na Gaeilge.

  • Increase funding for TG4 in keeping with its position as the primary Irish language broadcaster.

  • Put in place a 10 year monitoring programme for the Gaeltacht and a mechanism to officially recognise ‘Breac-Ghaeltachtai’ throughout the island.

    Supporting Arts and Culture

  • Restore funding to the levels recommended by the Arts Plan, reach a minimum investment target of 1% total budgetary spend

  • Increase support to community festivals.

  • Make arts and culture a new area of formal all-Ireland co-operation under the Good Friday Agreement, and actively promote the State as a cultural visitor destination within an all-Ireland framework.

    Demilitarisation and Solidarity for a Better World

  • Enshrine neutrality in the Constitution.

  • Ensure Irish troops train and serve abroad only under the auspices and leadership of the United Nations, and only with prior Dail approval.

  • Prohibit use of Irish airports, airspace, seaports, or territorial waters for preparation for war or other armed conflict by foreign powers or to facilitate any aspect of illegal acts such as the US Government’s programme of ‘extraordinary rendition’.

  • Withdraw from the EU Rapid Reaction Force, Battle Groups and NATO’s Partnership for Peace.

  • Incrementally increase Overseas Development Assistance to 1% of GNP by 2010, ring-fence the ODA budget and keep all such aid un-tied.

  • © 2007 Irish Republican News