26 April 2007 Edition
Election Campaign steps up a gear
Public services the priority
Sinn Féin’s TDs said this week that they are preparing for the election of a significant number of colleagues in the forthcoming General Election, that their aim was for their party to be in Government North and South and that a priority for the party is the provision of premium public services especially in health and housing.
Speaking outside Leinster House on Wednesday, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: “Sinn Féin’s team of TDs has been honoured to serve our constituents over the past five years and we are seeking a renewed mandate in the forthcoming General Election. We are confident of receiving that renewed and strengthened mandate and are preparing for the election of a significant number of additional Sinn Féin TDs.
“Our aim is for our party to be in Government North and South and ultimately for Sinn Féin to be part of an all-Ireland government. This is about changing Ireland; it is not about political careers.
“Our priority going into the General Election and in the next Dáil is the provision of premium public services on the basis of fair and equal access for all. This is especially needed in healthcare and housing where the Fianna Fáil/PD government has, for the past decade, failed miserably to use economic prosperity to ensure that all our people have access to the best healthcare and to decent housing. Instead they have left housing provision to the developer-driven market and are in the process of privatising our health services.
Real debate needed
“We need real debate and real engagement about the issues in this election. The current sham debate on stamp duty should be set aside so that people can focus on the real housing needs of people.
“It is very convenient for the outgoing Government that the debate on housing has been reduced to this farcical auction politics. The reality is that any reduction in stamp duty will be immediately nullified as developers would push up house prices by the same amount and leave buyers no better off or indeed worse off.
“It is time that housing policy was changed radically from one driven by developers and speculators and by the unbridled market, to one led by the needs of the people for social and affordable housing.
“There are over 40,000 households on the local authority waiting lists in this State. This does not take into account the tens of thousands who do not put their names on the list because they know that they have no chance whatsoever of being allocated a local authority home as the volume being built is so small and only the most needy have a chance of being housed. At the same time there are an estimated 230,000 vacant properties in this State.
“Under the Government’s much-vaunted so-called affordable housing scheme, houses are being put up for sale in Dublin, labelled affordable but costing €345,000.
“The Fianna Fáil/PD Government is virtually eliminating local authorities from the provision of housing. Statistics out this week show that of almost 100,000 homes built last year, only 2,700 were ‘social and affordable’.
“Sinn Féin would reverse this policy and give local authorities a lead role in providing housing for our people. Significantly increasing the number of local authority houses built is the best way to provide affordable homes while maintaining employment in the construction industry.
“Similarly in Health we would reverse the privatisation drive of this Government, including the private for-profit hospital co-location scheme. As a campaigning party we have a proven determination to bring about real reform in healthcare, ensuring equal access for all based on need alone. Our campaign has struck a chord with people throughout the country and we are determined to see our policies implemented.”
Campaign steps up a gear
Meanwhile Sinn Féin stepped its election campaign up a gear last weekend with the distribution of a 12-page special election newspaper to 200,000 homes across Dublin and Martin McGuinness on the campaign trail in Waterford and Wexford. Mary Lou, Cllr Larry O’Toole, Peter Lawlor and Matt McCormack arrived into the West Pier in Howth by boat with thousands of Dublin News on board and were met by party activists.
Ms. McDonald said:
“This weekend the election campaign steps up a gear with Dublin Sinn Féin distributing a special 12 page election newspaper to 200,000 homes across Dublin and Martin McGuinness on the campaign trail in Waterford and Wexford. On Monday and Tuesday Gerry Adams will visit Meath, Dublin North East, Dublin North West and Dublin Mid West.
“Our message to the electorate is simple. We will not engage in auction politics or make reckless promises. If you put Sinn Féin into government our priority will be building a strong economy, ending the crisis in the health service, providing social and affordable housing and reducing class room sizes in primary school.”