[Sinn Fein]

21 November 2002

Sinn Fein Pre-Budget submission 2003 at a glance




Since shortly after the General Election when the true state of the public finances became known the Irish people are being prepared for a Budget of cutbacks for 2003. This was confirmed by the Book of Estimates published on 14th November, which saw major reductions in planned expenditure across all sectors of Government activity.

In successive pre-Budget submissions since 1997 Sinn Fein has argued consistently for a different course. We have called for Budgets which harnessed economic prosperity to foster equality and the redistribution of wealth. Instead Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats have widened the gap between rich and poor in our society.

As a result of this we still have

This was the context in which we approach Budget 2003. And we make no apology for presenting again in our pre-Budget submission many of the demands we raised in the years of record budget surpluses. These are issues of social justice.

Budget Priorities for 2003 must be:

Equality-proof the Budget

Discrimination and social and economic marginalisation go hand in hand. As a matter of priority, we want a budget that moves us closer to an Ireland of Equals.

We are calling on the government to Equality-proof this budget (including poverty-proofing) - in a transparent process. We want to see a ``report card'' on this budget.


All-Ireland Economic Development

As a result of the Good Friday Agreement there has been growing all-Ireland co-operation in the crucial fields of economic development, education, health, environment, agriculture, transport and tourism. It is essential that such co-operation continues.

Sinn Fein believes that the government should:


Taxation Justice

Sinn Fein believes that we need a fair and just tax regime as a means to redistribute resources. We want to use tax revenue to invest in health, education, pensions and child welfare as well as investing in economic development and to aid business growth

We need to rebuild our tax regime based on the principles of equity and transparency.








Towards Free Health Care for All

Sinn Fein supports the right to adequate and appropriate health care services for all, regardless of ability to pay. Primary care is particularly important because of its role in achieving health gain in a cost-efficient way through prevention, health promotion and early intervention.

In Budget 2003 Sinn Fein urges eight major steps:


Making Children and Childcare a real priority

What value economic development if the children of the nation are not properly cared for? We must ensure that children receive the best care at all times. That includes care by parents in the home, care by other family members, paid care by childcare workers in the home, early childhood education, crèches and other facilities provided by the community or voluntary sector or by private concerns.

To offset the rising cost of living, especially for those eligible for the Child Dependent Allowances Sinn Fein proposes:


Equal Access to Education

Perhaps more than anything else, education can fundamentally and positively transform society. At its best, it is child and student centred and cherishes all the children of our nation equally. To end the inequality that is inherent in the 26 County education system Sinn Fein proposes:

Primary and pre-school

Secondary Level

Third Level

A fairer system for grant allocation. The graduated income limit categories need to be improved to be made more gradual



The Celtic Tiger boom has come and gone but the housing crisis is still here and worse than ever. Commitments given by the government prior to the election to set specific social and homelessness targets have not been delivered. Sinn Fein believes that proper accommodation is a basic right and we support enshrining the right to housing in the constitution.

Sinn Fein recommends


Investing in Irish Enterprise

Sinn Fein believes that the same quantity and quality of resources made available to foreign investors should be made available to indigenous enterprises.



Public transport should no longer be treated as an add-on to government transport policy. Support for public transport is dependent on adequate levels of support from Government. Only then will motorists abandon their cars and take to bus and rail in significant numbers to reduce road accident deaths and damage to the environment by pollution.

Sinn Fein proposes


Social Welfare

The budgets of the last five years have seen an economic policy directed not at tackling poverty in Irish society, but at benefiting the better off and wealthier elements of Irish society. From tax cuts in the top rates to cuts in Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax, over the last five years budgets the richest 10% of the population received 25% of the benefits and the poorest 20%, a mere 5%.

While Sinn Fein acknowledges the economy is not as strong as it was even 12 months ago, this state is still a comparatively wealthy one.

Sinn Fein proposes:


Supporting people with disabilities

It is essential that in Budget 2003 there is no attempt to roll back any of the advances made by the people with disabilities in the past decade. It must be recognised that in this, as in other sectors, the tremendous benefits of the past five years of unprecedented prosperity were not used for maximum benefit.

Sinn Fein calls for:


Agriculture and Rural Development

Among the measures that we would propose as part of domestic policy are those specifically designed to address current economic needs, and those we would see as part of a much broader long-term programme of rural development. At present we would like to see the following steps taken:

Establishment of a Commission into the future of Irish Agriculture to determine the optimum strategy to ensure the maintenance:-



As part of a concerted effort to reclaim our fisheries and protect the interests of Irish fishermen Sinn Fein proposes:


Natural Resources

One of the greatest political scandals that has taken place in this state has been the selling out of our natural resources to multi-national exploration companies. The initial act in this saga was the radical changes made to the licensing conditions imposed on the companies by the then Minister for Energy Ray Burke in 1987. This abolished the states 50% stake in any find and also abolished royalties. This was followed in 1992 by the decision to lower the tax rate paid on oil and gas to 25%.

To counter this Sinn Fein proposes:


Invest in Justice for All

Everyone has an equal right to justice. Everyone has an equal right to security in their communities. Everyone has an equal right to good legal information, advice and representation regardless of income or place of residence.

Throughout the justice system, we need to identify areas and alternatives for more effective investment, to ensure justice for all, and to reduce demand for the capital intensive end of justice (court proceedings and imprisonment). We need a service audit and needs assessment to generate investment targets with the objective of modernising the justice system - from the policing service through the courts and the penal system.

Sinn Fein calls for the Government to:


An Ghaeilge
The Irish Language

The Government promised an Irish Language Bill in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 but now we are told it will not be ready before early 2003. This delay is totally unacceptable.

Sinn Fein proposes:

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