There is a better way

The introduction and executive summary of Sinn Fein’s election manifesto for the 26-County general election later this month.

Ireland is at a crossroads. This election will be one of the most important ever held. Fianna Fail and the Greens have ruined the economy.

440,000 citizens are unemployed; 100,000 more people will emigrate over the next two years. Families are at risk of losing their homes. Our elderly and disabled, low-income and middle-income families, our urban and rural communities and small businesses, have all been badly hurt by the bad decisions of this incompetent Government.

Our sovereignty has been handed over to the IMF and EU and the banking debt has become the personal debt of every man, woman and child in the State. This is wrong.

There is a better way to reduce the deficit and put our economy back on track without cutting the heart out of society and destroying our education, health and social services.

If we are to fix this our society we need to put honesty and fairness into politics. We need people in the Dail who are there to represent the best interests of citizens, not the banks or themselves. We need people who put job creation and quality public services first - who will make sure the ordinary person and the most vulnerable in society are protected. All that is still possible, even in these difficult times. But it means political choices.

Fianna Fail’s and the Greens’ savage Budget targeted working families and those on low and middle incomes. And, despite their rhetoric, Labour and Fine Gael have both said that they intend to implement the policies produced by the Government.

Four years ago, these parties were also saying the same thing - cut taxes, increase spending and give more power to the EU.

Four years ago, Sinn Fein said the fundamentals were not sound and that the Government was throwing away billions instead of investing in the future.

We proposed introducing a fair tax system, using available public finance to create a world-class health and education system, immediate measures to deal with a growing crisis in property and banking, the ending of cronyism and double standards. We said use the boom to build a society that we can really be proud of.

Today we are the only party to have produced costed, alternative economic proposals that have been endorsed by independent economists. Sinn Fein’s commitment is to:-

a) Invest in a major job-creation programme to get Ireland back to work;

b) Reverse the savage cuts and prioritise frontline services;

c) Burn the bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and wind it up;

d) Reduce the deficit by taxing the wealthiest and eliminating wasteful spending.

e) Root and branch political reform aimed at producing a genuinely open and accountable form of Government which ends the notion of political elites and empowers Irish citizens

f) An end to the two-tier health and education systems;

g) The proper use of Ireland’s natural resources for the common good;

h) Continued support for the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement

Over the last year Sinn Fein has confronted the Government and demanded higher standards. For us, actions speak louder than words.

* Sinn Fein was the only party not to sign up to the Fianna Fail/Green Party/Fine Gael/Labour ‘Consensus for Cuts’ and instead put forward a real alternative for economic recovery.

* It was Sinn Fein which first called on Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue to resign, saying his position was untenable after the revelations about his lavish expenses. Only then did the other Opposition parties speak out.

* It was Limerick City Sinn Fein Councillor Maurice Quinlivan who confronted the slibhin politics of Minister Willie O’Dea.

* It was the decision of Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty to go to the courts to vindicate the rights of the people of Donegal South-West which forced the Government to hold the long-overdue by-election.

* It was Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghin O Caolain TD who exposed Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s contacts with leading people in Anglo Irish Bank.

* It was Sinn Fein which opposed the Lisbon Treaty, pointing out the dangers for our sovereignty.

Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are a United Ireland party. We believe in the sovereignty, independence and freedom of the Irish people and the right of our people to build our own society. Sinn Fein is committed to delivering for citizens.

Sinn Fein offers more than just hope in this election - Sinn Fein offers a real alternative.


1) A new Budget as soon as possible following the election.

2) Close the deficit over 6 years, not 4. We would envisage a E3billion adjustment for the remainder of 2011 (E4.7billion in a full year), leaving us with a deficit of E15.7billion in 2012.

3) Restructuring the bank debts, including burning the bank bondholders in those banks which are insolvent, including Anglo Irish Bank. This will ensure tax raised is spent on Irish public services - not servicing or paying off the debt incurred for bailing out the banks.

4) Initiate a responsible wind-down of NAMA.

5) A E7billion job-creation programme spread over 3.5 years with the aim of saving and creating more than 160,000 jobs funded by a once-off transfer from the National Pension Reserve Fund and which we would use for a stimulus instead of transferring its reserves into the banks.

6) A labour-intensive essential infrastructure programme as part of the E7billion job- stimulus programme. The focus of this programme would be to build hospitals, schools, public transport networks and to roll out broadband State-wide.

7) Establishing within the stimulus programme a E600 million Jobs Retention Fund. This fund would subsidise workers in struggling Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the potential to save 96,000 jobs, akin to the successful model used in Germany.

8) The introduction of a 1% Wealth Tax. This would be an income-linked Wealth Tax for high-earners levied on their assets over E1million in value, excluding working farmland.

9) The introduction of a third tax rate of 48% on individual income in excess of three times the average industrial wage (E100,000) per annum.

10) Standardising all discretionary taxation expenditures (tax reliefs paid at either the standard or marginal rate depending on income) with a view to ultimately eradicating tax reliefs that do not return a value for society.

11) Restoring the minimum wage at E8.65 an hour.

12) Removing the income levy/Universal Social Charge from low-earners in the ‘no-tax’ bracket and keep minimum wage earners out of the tax bracket.

13) Immediately returning social welfare payments to 2010 levels, and as soon as economic conditions permit raise them further to ensure adequate incomes (no one below the poverty line).


1) 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.

2) Reversing the current health cuts. Fund health in the context of reformed taxation and a progressive economic strategy. Roll out the promised Primary Care Centres throughout the State on an accelerated timetable. No more cuts to services at local hospitals and restore those services already cut.

3) Fewer bureaucrats, more frontline health workers.

4) An end to public subsidies for private healthcare. Invest all health funding in the public system.

5) A return to free education. End the system where schools are reliant on voluntary contributions from parents by raising the capitation grants to cover the real cost of running a school. Abolish the charge for the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert and for the mocks. Establish a book- lending scheme across all primary and secondary schools.

6) The creation of 500 new teaching posts and the reduction of class sizes to 20 pupils per teacher.

7) Opposing the reintroduction of third-level fees through any guise and reform the grants system to take into account the real costs of going to college.

8) The responsible wind-down of NAMA.

9) Examine models for mortgage debt forgiveness for those on low and average incomes who are in negative equity and who are in arrears.

10) Completing the stalled regeneration projects.

11) A secure future for rural post offices. Transform the rural postal network to make rural post offices a ‘one stop shop’ for a range of services including postal services, banking services, council services and citizens’ information.

12) Ensuring those with the lowest farm incomes benefit proportionally more from the single farm payment (SFP) and abolish the SFP for large businesses not directly involved in farming. Cap Single Farm Payments at E100,000.

13) Establishing a Rural Enterprise Fund to support new micro enterprises and co-ops being set up in rural areas, particularly in the agri-food sector.

14) Boosting Garda numbers by ending current recruitment, promotion and overtime embargoes. A far-reaching process of civilianisation to free-up fully trained Gardai from administrative and other duties to fight crime is essential and must be expedited.

15) Raise Garda visibility and activity in areas and at times needed by reassigning Gardai from desk duties to the beat.


1) A new Constitution. Establishing an all-Ireland Constitutional Forum drawn from representatives of both legislatures on this island, civic society, business and trade unions to discuss and bring forward a Draft Constitution that would be put to the people in a referendum.

2) Increasing voter participation by holding elections at weekends, reducing the voting age to 16 and automatically register voters as soon as they become eligible to vote using PPS numbers to avoid fraud.

3) Reforming how the Dail is elected. Elect one-third of the Dail from a list system; the other two-thirds from six-seat constituencies based on PRSTV.

4) Abolishing the Seanad in its current form.

5) Capping ministerial salaries at E100,000; TDs’ salaries at E75,000.

6) Northern representation in the Dail - The existing 18 Westminster MPs to automatically be accorded membership of the Oireachtas. Voting rights in Presidential elections to be extended to citizens in the Six Counties.

7) Changing the law to allow for the impeachment or removal from the Dail any TD involved in corruption, deliberate misuse of public money or fraud.

8) Building an Ireland of Equals where everyone’s rights are guaranteed, free of divisions caused by partition, sectarianism, racism and other forms of discrimination, and free from poverty and economic inequality.

9) Publishing the National Positive Ageing Strategy following consultation and direct participation of older people themselves, establish a proactive Ombudsman for Older People, prioritise the protection of vulnerable older people including through the introduction of modern mental capacity legislation.

10) Reviewing the current Disability Act with a view to the introduction of a new rights- based Disability Act alongside robust enforcement mechanisms and establish a Disability Ombudsman and a National Disability Strategy within the Department of the Taoiseach to set annual targets towards full delivery by 2016.

11) Publish a National Carers’ Strategy to secure an adequate income, employment and social opportunities, health and well- being supports for all family carers.

12) Implementation of a comprehensive strategy to roll back the erosion of the primacy of Irish in Gaeltacht areas and to create new Gaeltacht areas, particularly in urban centres, across the island.

13) Industrial centres of excellence under the auspices of U

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© 2011 Irish Republican News