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24 November 2005 Edition

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What type of Ireland? - Real debate needed

If anyone remains to be convinced that the campaign for votes in the next 26-County general election has started, they need only look at the onslaught on Sinn Féin policies conducted by the establishment parties and elements of the media in recent weeks.

Without having the IRA at which to direct their vitriolic assaults, the party's opponents are honing in on Sinn Féin's economic policies. No other opposition party, be it Fine Gael, Labour or the Greens, has been asked to provide the forensic costing details of policy proposals in the same way as Sinn Féin. Ironically all of this has put Sinn Féin centre stage in public discussion around the next election. But the dowsnside is that, by concentrating on meaningless figures and balance sheets from government and asking that Sinn Féin do the same, the other parties are avoiding a debate on the sort of Ireland they propose we live in.

Sinn Féin is no more privy to the exact costings for measures which have to be taken than any other opposition party. Only the Government has that information and they will not provide costing facilities to other parties except for pre- election manifestos. But it is obvious to anyone who compares the huge wealth in Ireland with the reality of life for most people that there is massive inequity and bias in government policies towards the wealthy.

The public health system is ignored in favour of the private sector. The right to a home is subordinate to the rights of developers and speculators. The most vulnerable in society are left behind as the Government seeks to privatise the state assets built up over many decades by Irish workers and taxpayers.

Yes, in Government Sinn Féin would look to reform an inequitable tax system. But despite what right-wing commentators and political opponents claim, this does not mean that taxes across the board would be raised. Sinn Féin would not raise taxes for the average worker. The party would look at removing tax exemptions from those who least needed them and would bring all minimum wage earners out of the tax bracket. In the type of society Sinn Féin envisages, tax would be organised fairly- those who can afford to pay it would, while those who can't, would pay less.

Fianna Fáil and the PDs claim we have a low-tax economy, but what of the myriad stealth taxes directed at the lowest earning workers? If the Fianna Fáil PD Government or so-called opposition parties such Fine Gael and Labour have a problem with Sinn Féin policies they should engage in a constructive and coherent debate. And the Irish media should not allow them to deflect attention away from the real issues affecting Irish people.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

Buy An Phoblacht magazine here

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