21 September 2000 Edition
Provide better services not tax cuts - Ó Caoláin
SF TD re-selected for Cavan/Monaghan
The Dublin government has been urged to resist calls for further tax cuts for the wealthy and to use its massive budget surplus to provide better health, education and childcare services. The call came from Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. He said that the coming Dáil term ``will inevitably be a stormy one'' and that Sinn Féin was prepared for a general election at any time.
I confidently predict that I will be a member of a team of Sinn Féin TDs following the next election, no longer a lone republican voice in the Dáil chamber
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
The Sinn Féin TD was speaking after his re-selection as the party's candidate to contest the general election in the Cavan/Monaghan constituency. Ó Caoláin said:
``The coming session of the Dáil will inevitably be a stormy one, with this government reaping the whirlwind of its failed policies across a range of issues. This Fianna Fáil/PD administration, and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy in particular, have failed to harness economic growth to narrow the poverty gap. In fact, his tax cuts have benefited the wealthy above all and have widened the gulf between higher and lower earners.
``There have been calls from the PDs and others to continue the trend in the last three budgets, which cut taxes for the highest earners and for corporations. These calls must be resisted. Instead, the government must use its massive surplus to provide better health, education and childcare services.
``There is a great danger that yet again the government will squander its surplus with short-term `giveaway' tax cuts, hoping to be rewarded at the general election. But the majority of taxpayers are more concerned at hospital waiting lists, inequality in education and lack of childcare and would prefer to see revenue spent on these essential services than squandered on yet more tax reductions.
``The lack of affordable childcare is a critical issue and those on lower incomes are very badly hit. Children already facing the harsh reality of life's inequalities continue to be the real losers. This must be a budgetary priority for the government. As an immediate measure, and an indicator of intent, the Taoiseach and his Cabinet should allocate the full amount due from the financial institutions who were exposed for non-payment of DIRT tax to a special Childcare Fund, targeted at those in greatest need - single parents and couples coping on lower incomes.
``Sinn Féin is well prepared for a general election, whenever it comes, and with our progressive policies and committed team of candidates, we are confident of increasing our mandate. I confidently predict that I will be a member of a team of Sinn Féin TDs following the next election, no longer a lone republican voice in the Dáil chamber.''
One hundred and fifty delegates from the Sinn Féin organisation throughout Counties Cavan and Monaghan attended the Election Convention which was held in Cootehill, County Cavan on Wednesday, 13 September.
The Convention was addressed by Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Assembly member for Derry, Mitchel McLaughlin, who spoke on the current political situation. He commended the Cavan/Monaghan organisation for its work and expressed confidence that local and Westminster elections in the North next year and the general election in the 26 Counties - whenever it comes - will see further gains for Sinn Féin. The Convention was chaired by the party's General Secretary, Lucilita Bhreatnach of Dublin.
The Convention heard a report from Deputy Ó Caoláin on his work as a TD over the past three years. After a detailed discussion on the strategy to be employed in contesting the next election, Ó Caoláin was selected by unanimous vote to be the Sinn Féin candidate. He concluded his address to the meeting:
``The next general election can occur at any time between now and June 2002. We do not know what political developments await us either in the peace process or on the wider scene. The times could prove difficult and dangerous but we are ready to face the challenges the future will bring. James Connolly never managed to secure elected office but he is better remembered and honoured than many thousands of nonentities who were elected since his time. I will end with his call:
``Let us demonstrate at the ballot box the strength and intelligence of the revolutionary idea.''