Sinn Féin’s progressive alternative to austerity

Photo by: HilaryQuinn
Sinn Féin led protest against EU/IMF in Cork City

Irish Senator Kathryn Reilly addressed the Progressive Students Conference on 13 October.

Her speech, setting out Sinn Féin’s alternative to austerity, included the following points:

‘…conservative forces never miss a good crisis and that for them this is the perfect time for them to do things they always wanted to but could never get away with.
Hence in Ireland we see the increase in speed in the process of privatisation of health care and education.  The rights of Irish language speakers are thrown into question in the name of financial prudence. The Labour Party which previously defended the rights of all children to benefits now is supporting moves to means test children’s benefits. Disability services and allowances for carers have been attacked.
What we are experiencing is more than cuts; it is an attack on citizens’ rights and on the concept of equality.’


‘Ireland today is a country still divided by a partition which has bred incredible economic and social fragmentation. That has been the case for most of the last century and now hopefully a course has been plotted that will bring about Irish unity and the creation of a democratic republic.
Ireland, north and south, today does however face some common challenges- challenges depressingly similar to those faced by Britain and its people across Europe today. These challenges are mounting as the austerity mongers ramp up their attacks. It seems the more they fail, the more they insist.’


‘…in the south we have a government which still, despite its protestations, does have the power to tack a different course and to not blindly follow the path of austerity as laid down by the IMF and the Troika.
In the north, things are more complicated with economic matters generally being a “reserved matter” meaning the London government still control such policies. In effect we have a government situated in a different country making decisions for Irish people. Neither the Tories nor the Liberal Democrats stood for election in Ireland. Between them they received 0 votes from Ireland, yet they are insisting on their austerity being implemented in the north of Ireland.
These two different situations complicate matters for an all-Ireland party like Sinn Féin but our answer is the same north and south- No to Austerity!’


‘…Sinn Fein is leading a campaign for a change in direction, a campaign for workable policies that will see the Irish economy regain strength without having to dismantle our public services or inflict brutal cuts against working people.’


‘Last week we brought to the Assembly in Belfast a motion calling for a reversal in direction and a growth centred policy. Our motion read:
That this Assembly notes, with concern, the continuing pursuance of austerity measures by the British and Irish Governments, and the subsequent detrimental effects on our local economy; and calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to impress, on both governments, the need to follow a path to economic recovery that is based on job creation, progressive taxation, the protection of the most vulnerable, and the provision of first class front-line public services.’

Sinn Féin believes we need to grow our way out of recession.
We would stop the payments to bad banks and instead use those billions to invest in and stimulate our economy.
We would reject flat taxes being levied on lower and middle income families at the same level as they are on the wealthy. We would introduce a wealth tax similar to the French model on wealth exceeding 1€ million. Those that can afford to pay more must be made paid more.’


‘We are proposing a €13 billion additional investment package in job creation and economic growth over 4 years in the 26 Counties.’


‘We would force the banks, more or less all nationalized now, to lend money, especially to indigenous enterprises rooted in the community.’


‘International solidarity has always been a bedrock of Irish Republicanism and so it remains when the enemy is austerity.’


Kathryn Reilly’s full speech can be read here