Irish Republican News · February 21, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Sinn Fein in campaign overdrive
Sinn Fein in campaign overdrive
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With less than a week to go, Sinn Féin has sharply escalated its 26-County general election campaign by outlining key policies in a number of high-profile media events.

Speaking at a launch in Dublin at the weekend, Gerry Adams called for a referendum on the bank bailout.

“The banking system is busted,” he said. “Irish people cannot afford to pay the billions that the Fianna Fáil/Green Government and Labour and Fine Gael have agreed to.”

As his party launched a billboard campaign on the issue, he pointed to the other parties’ determination to pay off those who invested in the bankrupted banks’ debt.

But Mr Adams said that Sinn Fein would not renege on the State’s sovereign debt.

“Key to it is to separate the bad, toxic bank debt, private debt... from the sovereign debt,” he said.

“In four weeks time Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide will be gifted another 30.6 billion euro. That is 3 billion euro each year for 10 years. Sinn Féin will not proceed with this bailout to the banks.

“But it is not too late. The banking system can be fixed. The economy can be regenerated. This requires jobs and not dig-outs to toxic banks.”

He called for a consultative referendum on the bailout, which he said “burdens every citizen, our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.

“The people should have their say. There should be a referendum.”

NATURAL RESOURCES

Speaking at the the launch of Sinn Fein’s election proposals on natural resources, Dublin Mid West candidate Eoin Ó Broin said that strong measures are required to ensure that Irish natural resources are used for the benefit of the people.

Among the proposals announced was a commitment to renegotiate existing oil and gas contracts including that held by Shell for the Corrib Gas field, to give the State a 51% shareholding while increasing the levies to 48% and royalties to 7.5%.

“Contrary to popular belief Ireland is rich in natural resources,” Mr O Broin said.

“Decades of government mismanagement has resulted in a massive hand over of these resources such as our natural gas and fisheries.

“In addition a failure to invest in developing sustainable energies and forestry has denied the state valuable sources of employment and much needed revenue.”

He said his party planned to establish a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company which would actively participate and invest in further exploration.

Sinn Fein is also “firmly” opposed to the sale of State assets such as the ESB, while supporting increased investment in the renewable energy sector and forestry and improved quota allocations for Irish fishermen in Europe.

“Ireland’s natural resources are a public resource. They need to be developed in way that maximises the benefit to the public,” Mr O Broin said. They also need to be developed in a manner that is economically and environmentally sustainable.”

POLITICAL REFORM

The party also announced a wide-ranging document on political reform for the 26-County state.

Sinn Fein has proposed that all constituencies in Dáil elections should be seven-seaters but that the total number of constituencies would be reduced from the current 43.

One-third of the Dáil’s membership would be elected on a list system and consideration should also be given to reducing the number of TDs, the party said.

“The key to what we’re proposing here is empowering citizens, actively promoting citizens’ rights and making all of our political structures and systems accountable,” Mr Adams told journalists outside Government Buildings.

Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh added: “We believe there is a need for root-and-branch change to many of the institutions in this State.”

The main proposals in a new Sinn Féin document, Towards a New Republic, include an all-Ireland constitutional forum to be drawn from representatives of both legislatures on the island, civic society, business and trade unions.

The goal would be to create a constitution which would form the basis for a future 32-county republic.

Mr Adams also described a statement by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore that in government he has no plans to cut TDs’ salaries as “unbelievable”.

“This is an amazing admission from the leader of the Labour Party which claims the mantle of James Connolly. It seems that Eamon Gilmore wants other people to lead by example but not Fine Gael/Labour TDs,” he said.

Elected members of the Dublin parliament receive salaries in excess of 100,000 euro per annum, not including generous expenses and seven-figure pensions.

“Labour talks tough about political reform but fails to lead when it comes to their own TDs’ pay. They expect families to live on less than 200 euro a week but aren’t prepared to lead by example and take a cut themselves.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny was coincidentally at the centre of a salary controversy at the weekend when it was revealed he will soon entitled to a six-figure pension lump sum from his former teaching job despite remaining a TD.

“TDs have more security than most, are better paid than most and they should lead by example,” said Mr Adams.

“Sinn Féin says TDs’ salaries should be cut by 20%, Ministers’ by 40% and top civil servants’ salaries should be capped at 100,000 euro.”

© 2011 Irish Republican News