[Sinn Fein]

4th June 1999

Euro slide distorting island economy

Sean MacManus, Sinn Fein's EU candidate for Connaught/Ulster speaking in Sligo this morning said that the slide in the value of the EURO was having a negative effect on the island economy.

Mr. MacManus said:

``The Irish people have been repeatedly promised since entry into the EEC in 1973 that membership would make partition meaningless. Today in border areas the economic effects of partition are greater than ever before.

``Sterling reached a record low against the punt yesterday. Changing currency values leads communities on both sides of the border to continually seek the best means of increasing their spending power. Short run gains for consumers on either side of the border are no recompense for the long-term damage being inflicted on the border economy by this currency speculation.

``There is also the added danger of increasing inflation in the 26 Counties. It is one of the most open economies in the industrialised world. The slide in the euro value will aid exports but it will increase the costs of imports. It will be the ordinary people who eventually end up paying these costs as supermarkets and other retailers pass on the price increases caused by the euro slide.

``Irish economic interests are being threatened yet the Dublin Government is silent. The European Central Bank (ECB) has decided not to intervene in the currency markets. However this policy is clearly not in Irish interests. Nor is the obvious dispute between the German Bundesbank and the ECB. Again Irish interests are being ignored. The cracks in the euro are beginning to show. The policy of monetary union is inherently flawed. The longer the Dublin Government, some of whose ministers are actually at an EU summit today, fail to raise their voices to protect Irish interests the greater the damage there will be to the Irish economy.''

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