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18 December 2008 Edition

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Adams emphasises need for all-Ireland economy

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

SPEAKING during a debate in the North’s Assembly this week on the impact of the global economic downturn, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commended the ‘efforts of the Executive in bringing forward measures to strengthen the local economy, to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and to alleviate hardship.’
The West Belfast MLA noted Nigel Dodds acknowledgement that “there are only a limited set of levers under our control” to manage the economy.
Adams also called for greater fiscal autonomy as well as an all-island economy.
During the course of his remarks Adams said: “The so-called credit crunch respects no boundaries or borders. Its affects are being felt in all parts of this island and throughout the globe. The collapse of the global economic system is clearly a major factor in all of this, but it is not the only factor.
“The reality is that an unregulated free market does not work for working families or the poor. That is the big historic lesson of this time.
“These difficulties are aggravated here because British direct rule has left a legacy of underfunding, poor infrastructure and bureaucratic incompetence.
“The lack of economic and fiscal sovereignty, and the British government’s inadequate annual subvention, and the very real and negative effects of partition, limits the options available to the Executive.
“I note that the Minister of Finance and Personnel today drew attention to the limited set of levers under his control.
“I want to commend the Minister for measures taken in areas where we do have responsibility.
It may be useful in the time ahead if he could identify powers which would assist him, and if they were devolved from London to this Assembly.
Our joint First Ministers should be commended on their negotiations with the British Prime Minister.
The Executive should also be commended for successfully re-allocating almost £70 million today, especially in respect of the fuel credit initiative which will positively help families and pensioners most at risk.
As the Executive seeks to tackle these issues it is important to note that the British Treasury also attempts to impose its own political and fiscal philosophy on how the government here does its business. For example, this approach dictates that the public sector can only become efficient if exposed to competition from the private sector, that assets should be sold off and public services privatised.
Incidentally this is exactly the same strategy that the Irish Government has pursued as it willfully squandered the wealth of the Celtic Tiger.
This is the wrong strategy
Tá sé tharr am go raibh athrú ann, ta smaointí agus barúileacha nua de dhíth.
There is a need for new ideas, new thinking and real change.
The point behind all of this is that the economy must serve the people. Society should not be judged on the wealth of its elites.
It should be judged by the condition of its lowest class, the working poor and citizens caught in the poverty trap. This means developing solutions, strategies, north and south that can chart a different way forward.
It means ending the nonsense of two competing economies on this island. An all island economy makes sense.
Here in the North, among other initiatives, it also means pressing the British Government for greater fiscal autonomy and the ability to gather taxes and manage our economy independent of British Treasury restraints.

An Phoblacht
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