Republican News · Thursday 19 November 1998

[An Phoblacht]

Questions Ahern must answer

Only time can tell if the Dublin Government's decision to seek a change in status for EU funding is a case of one step forward or two backward. They have portrayed the step towards a regionalisation process as a positive one and Sinn Féin more than any other party has been an advocate of regionalisation in the Irish economy.

However the late inclusion of Kerry and Clare in the list of counties still qualifying for Objective One Status smacks of stroke politics and political opportunism.

Ever since the entry of the 26 Counties into the EU in 1973 the approach of successive Dublin Governments has been the same. They have sought to maximise the amount of EU funding flowing into the economy regardless of any negative consequences or of the need for a long term the effects this funding could have.

6 billion payoff

The approach year in year out was to maximise the funding take and play down any of the scares that funding might be decreased or withdrawn.

In 1992, the whole campaign behind the decision to sign up to the Maastricht Treaty and effectively move economic sovereignty to the EU Central Bank in Frankfurt was based totally on the fact that 6 billion would flow into the 26-County economy if the people voted yes.

Now Bertie Ahern and his cabinet have taken the first faltering steps towards recognising the need for a regional development approach to the Irish economy.

Basic building block

Irish Republicans more than any other political grouping are in favour of an empowered decentralised democratic regional economies in Ireland. One of the core themes in Republican economic philosophy is the belief that the community is the basic building block in any economy.

Ahern must now be made to consider creating empowered local government in Ireland. He must move to devolve economic power to regions. He must put the community in control of their local economies.

Development not dependency should be the philosophy adopted towards the EU funds. Will they aid long-term economic development or will they perpetuate economic dependency? In the case of CAP funding they have created a dependent farming community who now cannot exist without further subvention.

In their submission to the EU Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies the Dublin Government stated that ``a revised regional structure'' will be needed to implement the plan. If the Dublin Government really wants to make regionalisation be a positive experience they have a lot of work to do.

Unions have a role to play in peace process

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin set an important precedent last weekend when he was the first national Sinn Féin official to be invited to speak at a SIPTU trade union conference.

Speaking on ``Building the peace process through political action'' McLaughlin told the delegates at the Dublin Public Sector Regional Conference that ``The Trade Union movement has a vital role to play in ensuring the issues of economic equality and justice'' are placed on the wider political agenda.

IBEC's employment plan


Sinn Féin have always believed that it is possible to create full employment. The employers' group IBEC, in a labour market policy paper, maintained this week that they too want full employment.

However the proposed IBEC route is a very different one to that of Sinn Féin's. IBEC support Mary Harney's action plan of coercing the unemployed into make work schemes and want the scheme extended.

IBEC also want the proposals for a minimum wage dropped along with the working time time legislation and other progressive employment legislation.

It is possible that the IBEC proposals could create full employment. However it would be an economy of exploited workers - a form of modern slavery. It's time for IBEC to go back to the drawing board.

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