[Sinn Fein]

5th July 2002

MacManus outlines Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein's post-election agenda for change

Sinn Fein Councillor Seán MacManus has outlined Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein's post-election agenda for change, identifying the key demands for social and economic changes that they will be raising in the months to come.

Speaking to a meeting of Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein workers Cllr. MacManus said:

``While the previous Government presided over the Celtic Tiger economy, this Government will be saddled with the economic downturn. Under these circumstances, inequality in Ireland will increase unless we as a society change our priorities.

``We know that over the last decade, despite unprecedented prosperity, previous Irish governments widened the gap between rich and poor in every single budget. Ireland now has the most unequal distribution of wealth in any industrial state outside the USA, according to the UN. Sligo and Leitrim people know this reality firsthand, as historically Sligo and Leitrim get only crumbs from the national table. Sinn Fein is putting the new government on notice that this must change now. 

``Sinn Fein is particularly concerned about the government's plans for further privatisation and cuts in public spending and services. We know from the example of other western industrial countries that have chosen this route, that it increases poverty and economic marginalisation. This is not the right road for Ireland's future, and we will be opposing any attempts to further Thatcherise this state.

``As we made clear during the election campaign, a more equal distribution of wealth is one of Sinn Fein's highest priorities.

``Both nationally and in Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein have now expanded our mandate, and we have therefore redoubled our commitment to vigorously pursue our agenda for change, which includes:

.        Full employment. Sligo and Leitrim did not experience significant Celtic Tiger job creation. We need all-island economic solutions, greater support for native industry, and support for community employment.

.        Just taxation policies that exempt minimum wage earners and end tax evasion by the wealthy.

.        Halting privatisation in the public sector.

.        Key public services to be provided as of right. These include healthcare, housing, education, childcare, public transport, waste management and recycling.

.        Radical solutions to the crisis in agriculture, and a higher priority on rural regeneration.

.        An all-island equality agenda that encompasses all levels of discrimination - economic, social, regional, and cultural.

.        Full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement on both sides of the border, and enhanced cross-border cooperation for economic development.

MacManus concluded: ``This is an agenda that Sinn Fein will be working to further at all levels - north and south, in the Dail, on the county councils, on the local councils, and at grassroots level in our communities. In the months to come Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein will be fully engaged, providing local leadership on these issues, and on other issues of local importance.''

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