Week in Review
03-10 December 2015
Challenging Tory austerity the best way to tackle inequality – McCann
On 8 December Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said challenging the `austerity agenda’ of the British government was `the best way to break the cycle of poverty and end inequality’.
Speaking at the launch of a new report on austerity and inequality, Ms McCann said that the north of Ireland `as a society emerging from conflict’ had `many difficult and enduring issues… such as poverty and inequality.
She said the British Government was `ideologically… driven by its determination to punish the poor through an austerity agenda which is having a devastating impact on family incomes and public services’.
Sinn Féin was `determined to defend core public services, to support indigenous businesses, to attract foreign direct investment, and to provide more and better jobs, particularly for our young people’, she said, adding `we have secured more than half a billion additional funding for the Executive plus flexibilities to be invested in growth and public services’. An agreed package of £585 million would `support the most vulnerable in our society and low-income families’.
She concluded: `we must break the cycle of poverty – and end inequality – by working together with a range of groups across society to challenge Tory austerity.’
Kearney welcomes trade union continued support for political institutions
In December Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney welcomed a statement from the northern committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU) pledging continued support for the political institutions.
Mr Kearney said the trade union movement had played `a consistent and key role in supporting the peace process and the political institutions’. The NIC-ICTU public statement which emphasised the importance of stable political institutions brought about by the Stormont House Agreement Implementation Plan was `an important and constructive intervention’, he said.
He added that the statement welcomed the return of stability to the political institutions, and emphasised `continued opposition to the Tory government’s austerity policy of slashing the Executive’s budget and its policy of cutting public services’. He said that NIC-ICTU’s `leadership against the austerity agenda of the Tory government and its policies of targeting the poorest and most vulnerable in society’ was `essential to building widespread and cross community support’.
Sinn Féin, he said, agreed with the unions `that the British government, through its austerity policies, is to blame for the political crisis which faced the institutions’ and said the party `share their concerns over the failure of the Irish government to live up to its responsibilities made in previous agreements’.
He said the north faced `massive economic and social challenges’ and that the trade union movement had brought forward `strategic proposals, which can contribute to restructuring and growing the regional economy, tackling patterns of inequality and ensuring there is a fair recovery for all citizens’. Sinn Féin would `continue to engage with NIC-ICTU on these ideas.’
He concluded: `local trades unions along with other stakeholders in civic society have an important role to play in helping to develop future economic planning and policy for the North’, adding `Sinn Féin will continue to work with the leadership of the trade union movement to build a broad-based united opposition to austerity north and south, while setting out a vision for economic growth and a fair recovery.’
British government `must fulfil commitments on disclosure’
Last week Sinn Féin Assembly Member Gerry Kelly called upon the British government to fulfil its commitments to release information to relatives of those killed during the conflict.
Mr Kelly said that issues raised in a `Spotlight’ TV programme highlighted why agreement could not be reached on dealing with the legacy of the past during the recent negotiations, due to `the British government’s insistence on maintaining a blanket veto on the release of relevant information to families’.
He said that Sinn Fein had recognised `there were concerns about the release of some sensitive information and compliance with Article 2 obligations of the ECHR – the right to life – and that is why Sinn Féin brought forward genuine proposals to address any legitimate concerns’.
He said that `to address the clear imbalance between the British government’s national security concerns and the families’ right to have access to relevant information Sinn Féin put forward three key principles’. Sinn Fein’s proposals were:
That national security can never be used as a reason to withhold information in relation to deaths from the conflict;
That information should be disclosed to the maximum extent that it does not endanger anyone’s life;
And that information should be disclosed in a manner that does not impact on current methodologies around national security.
He concluded: `We feel that these principles, in conjunction with the two options offered by our party of full discretion regarding the release of information for the director of the HIU or the adoption of an independent international panel to adjudicate on disputes around disclosure issues offers a reasonable, practical and acceptable way forward for both the British government and for all families and victims.’
Election is a choice between the Fine Gael/Labour chaos or a progressive Sinn Féin led government – Adams
On 5 December the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle (National Executive body) met today to finalise major policy documents and discuss the forthcoming elections.
Speaking at the Ard Chomhairle, Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD described as `laughable’ the Tanaiste’s assertion that the coming General Election would be `a battle of ideas between Fine Gael and Labour’.
He said the Labour Party had `rolled over on every principle that it enunciated during the 2011 election campaign and betrayed their mandate’ and that their leader `went as far as to say that Labour and Fine Gael share the common vision for the country, for which I presume she means the state’.
He said that it was `clear their shared, common vision includes the continued chaos in health and housing with lengthening housing waiting lists, growing homelessness and the continued scandal of trolley waits.’ He concluded: `the real choice will be between the failed policies of Labour, Fine Gael or a progressive government led by Sinn Féin. Such a government will end water charges and the family home tax and invest in prosperity and quality public services.’
Irish Unity Makes Sense – Adams
On 3 December Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD hosted conference in Dundalk, ‘A better future through unity’. The conference included a panel of economic experts including Dr John Bradley former Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Dublin; Michael Burke an economist and economic consultant; and Maggie Lennon Founder and Director of the Bridges Programmes.
The event focussed on the delivery of social and economic renewal in Louth and the potential of a single All-Ireland economy and what it could deliver in terms of greater prosperity and growth in our constituency.
Mr Adams set out measures Sinn Féin would introduce as part of a coherent strategy of building a sustainable, prosperous economy and a democratic united Ireland.
Teachta Adams said: `As an interim step towards the full integration of public services, Sinn Féin is seeking to ensure that departments in both jurisdictions work together to develop the joint delivery of public services. We want to establish a single, economic department and agency for Ireland, North and South, and implement an all-Ireland investment and jobs strategy.
We want to develop a Border Economic Development Zone to stabilise economic growth in the border region and to increase employment. Sinn Féin will publish an Integrated Economic Data Strategy for Ireland to support the integration of public services.
We want to upgrade infrastructure across the island. Sinn Féin’s plans also include; building SMEs to ensure that they deliver their full potential; developing agriculture, food and fish processing on an island-wide basis; and developing and implementing an integrated strategy for tourism and recreation.’
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