7 December 2006 Edition
The Mitchel McLaughlin Column
Irish Government should take lead in building all-Ireland economy
The Irish government should redouble its efforts to build an all-Ireland economy by drawing up plans for cross border integration in all aspects of commercial and social development. It should direct its energies and influences towards also convincing the British government that the future lies in economic policies specifically for the island of Ireland detached from British Exchequer policies designed for the fiscal stability of the island of Britain. If Irish economic development is to reach its full potential in a programmed and managed manner then what is required is co-operation and integrated planning between the Finance Ministers North and South pending eventual economic and political re-integration.
Both governments at the highest level have voiced their opinions that an island economy is in the long-term interests of all the people of Ireland.
Sinn Féin believes that the onward march towards a united Ireland is unstoppable and all other parties except the unionists are on record as having Irish unity as their political objective. And although unionist politicians will not say so publicly there are few of them who believe anymore that there will never be a united Ireland. Therefore we cannot afford to delay in laying the economic foundations for future stability. It would be to the benefit of all the people on this island if public expenditure was planned and managed on an all-Ireland basis. The British Secretary of State Peter Hain is also on record as accepting the Northern economy - divorced from the rest of the island - is unsustainable. Irish government ministers have likewise publicly endorsed an island economy and must now step up to the mark and play their part in working towards national reintegration.
In recent comments for instance, Brian Cowen, Dermot Ahern, and Micheál Martin are all on public record espousing the practicalities of development of infrastructural, economic, energy, educational and social structures on an all-Ireland basis. But it is not just nationalist political parties and the two governments that have recognised the need for this unitary approach. It has also been embraced by many business organisations, trade unionists, economic commentators and educationalists.
Sinn Féin has long called for this approach from both governments and all of the parties. I believe that we have now had enough rhetoric and promises, task forces and feasibility studies; it's time for action. I look forward to working with the two governments, the SDLP and others in delivering on this agenda. Now that there is a growing public consensus on the issue there is no excuse for further delay.
Hopefully we will have stable working political institutions in the North in the near future and this will allow for locally elected politicians to take decisions in collaboration with their southern counterparts. Integrated planning and spending can only benefit all of the people of Ireland regardless of political affiliation.