[Sinn Fein]

22nd November 2002

Adams calls for budget to be equality-proofed

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the beginning of a two day trip to Munster has said that the Book of Estimates presented by Minister Charlie McCreevy on November 14th shows a government doggedly determined to continue to support the wealthiest in Irish society. He said that `Pre-election commitments to public services and social justice have been dumped and it is clear that those who are going to suffer most in next months budget are the old, the sick and the most vulnerable in our society.' He called on the government to equality-proof this budget. Mr. Adams said:

``This government failed to use the unprecedented wealth created during the Celtic Tiger, when there were record budget surpluses, to foster equality and invest in public services and now with a downturn in the economy they are doggedly refusing to honour their commitments and have set themselves on a course that will widen the gap between rich and poor in our society and further downgrade public services.

``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.

``Discrimination and social and economic marginalisation go hand in hand. As a matter of priority, we want a budget that moves us closed to an Ireland of equals. We are calling on the government to equality-proof this budget, including poverty proofing, in a transparent manner. We want to see a `report card' on this budget.

``In this budget any cuts must be equality and poverty proofed, and promised equality measures must be backed with adequate financial commitments.

``We want to see a report card on this budget, which means creating a line-itemised `Equalisation Measures' section of the budget, reflecting spending across all departments to redress regional, economic, social and global inequalities. There is over ¤37 billion in spending at stake. Its fair distribution is vital for building an Ireland of equals''.

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