State’s €10bn contingency fund a ‘second bailout’ - SF
Adams and Doherty suggest Government’s record suggests fund could mean yet more austerity
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams with Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty at the Sinn Fein think-in at Carlingford, Co Louth, today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Sinn Féin has described as “a second bailout” the €10 billion contingency fund that may be borrowed by the State after the troika programme ends in December this year.
Speaking at the party’s planning day in Carlingford, Co Louth today, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and finance spokesman Pearse Doherty both suggested that the record of the Government suggested it could mean a continuation of austerity measures.
“The Minister for Finance is a minister for austerity,” said Mr Adams.
“Even if we did not have the economic crisis that was caused by the greed of these elites, he would be still bringing in these measures.”
Setting out his response to this possible new fund he said: “My concern would be that once again, ordinary citizens would have to pay for this. It is prudent for any government to cushion itself, but not on the record of this Government - which all the time has been deferential to the elites and at the same time has been punitive to citizens, working people, and lower and middle income families,” he said.
Mr Doherty said the Government should publish the terms and conditions and their proposals for what he said was a “second bailout”.
The day-long meeting in the Co Louth seaside village is being attended by the party’s TDs and Senators, as well as its MLAs and MPs from the North.
The party’s immediate focus, it said, was the forthcoming Seanad referendum on October 4th as well as this year’s budget, which has been brought forward from December to October 15th so as to comply with new European Union rules.
Mr Adams and Mr Doherty said Sinn Féin would be presenting an alternative costed budget that would meet the fiscal targets but would be much less than the €3.1 billion figure that is being argued by the troika.
Mr Doherty said the party’s adjustment would be between €2 billion and €2.5 billion.
The party will include wealth tax proposals in its overall budgetary document, but these will be excluded from its alternative costed budget - as no official figures are available as to how much the exchequer could raise from such a tax. In addition, the party’s opposition to the property tax means it will need to seek alternatives for the €500 million per annum take from that tax.
“We will meet the Government’s targets to show the people and the Government that there is another alternative,” said Mr Doherty.
He said a “mythical debate” had arisen based on the mistaken belief that the Department of Finance was willing to cost alternative budgets.
He said the department was only willing to cost taxation proposals but not other measures such as efficiencies or savings in spending.
He and Mr Adams also criticised the department for refusing to provide projections on how much revenue might be raised by a wealth tax.
On the Seanad referendum, Mr Adams emphasised that while Sinn Féin and Fine Gael were both campaigning for a Yes vote, they were doing so for very different reasons and were not co-operating in any way.
“The Government is selling the citizens a pup,” he said.
Sinn Féin, he continued, has argued for a “preferendum” offering three choices: abolition, retention or root-and-branch reform. He also accused Fianna Fáil of a U-turn on the issue.
He later told delegates the party did want a very reformed Seanad, but that could not be achieved with the institution as it was currently constituted. Therefore, he said, the party supported its abolition ahead of reform in the future.
The Sinn Féin leader refused to be drawn on media speculation that former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews has made a formal application to join the party. Mr Adams said the party was expanding and that any membership proposal had to follow a protocol endorsed by the Árd Chomhairle.
He said he did not intend to speculate on any names ahead of its next meeting on Saturday.