I went for a drink tonight with a comrade who is active in Sinn Fein. I asked him about the response of the left in Ireland to the savage cuts agenda adopted by all the mainstream parties and he replied that among all the parties with standing, only Sinn Fein is articulating a clear economically coherent alternative to the brutal and wrongheaded neoliberal prescription of cuts. The conversation has prompted me to dig out this article off the Sinn Fein website from a few months back about the economic alternative to cuts and the ideological motivation behind attempts to hack away at public sector spending.
Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s Pre-Budget 2010 Submission Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said that to address the budgetary crisis the party is setting out costed proposals that will assist those in need, protect public services and reduce the deficit by targeting under-taxed wealth and stimulating the economy.
Describing the Sinn Féin proposals as “a real alternative to the disastrous, deflationary and grossly inequitable Government strategy”, Ó Caoláin said: “Sinn Féin today presents our Pre-Budget 2010 Submission as a real alternative road to recovery. We have shown with our carefully considered and costed proposals that it is possible to raise the finance needed to maintain frontline public services, protect those in need, reduce the deficit in State finances and provide an economic stimulus package to create jobs.
“For most of 2009 the Government has been attempting to soften up the public for a savage Budget this December. Never has a Budget been more dreaded. The Government has made clear that it will base its Budget on cuts in social welfare payments, cuts in public services and cuts in public sector pay as well as axing health, education and capital building projects.
“Once again the poor, the unemployed, the pensioners, the low paid workers in both private and public sectors and families struggling with massive mortgages will bear the burden.
“With social welfare cuts it seems that the Government is determined to get blood from the stone. But when they are challenged to tax the super-rich we are told there isn’t even a stone!
“People are fighting back against the disastrous policies of the Fianna Fáil/Green Government and we welcome that. The past few months has seen people on the streets in unprecedented numbers in demonstrations, strikes and other forms of protest. They demand a better, fairer way. This Submission is Sinn Féin’s contribution to that better way forward.
“It is not enough to denounce wrong Government policies – and they are wrong. It is not enough to point out that those policies pursued over the past decade are the cause of the Irish recession – and they are. We also have to set out viable alternatives and that is what we do with this Submission.
“Central to our Submission is the need for economic stimulus to protect and create jobs. Talk of the beginnings of any type of recovery is meaningless when we have well over 400,000 unemployed in this State, half a million in Ireland as a whole. Already growing emigration is beginning to disguise the true level of unemployment. So we need strategies to create jobs, strategies glaringly absent from this Government.
“We are proposing a €3.218 billion economic stimulus package with a range of measures to get Ireland back to work. We are also proposing a €723 million household stimulus package aimed at helping to reduce the cost of living in this state.
“As a people we need economic policies that are founded on fairness and that are viable. They also need to instil confidence.
“Sinn Féin is confident that the Irish people can emerge from this economic crisis and that we can build a fairer society and more sustainable economy.”