Adams hits out at 'corrupt ruling elite'

 

SINN FÉIN has opened its election campaign with a strong attack by party president Gerry Adams on corruption in the political system.

Mr Adams numbered the outgoing Government, the Opposition parties apart from Sinn Féin and those “complicit” in the country’s economic problems as being part of a “deeply corrupt ruling elite”.

However, he refused to name individuals he claimed were corrupt and sought to draw a distinction between those who were “criminally corrupt” and others who were corrupt by virtue of having gone along with a “cosy consensus” in politics.

The criminally corrupt would be dealt with by due process in the courts, while other corrupt people were “redeemable” because they could be voted out of power.

“The economy is in crisis because of political choices being made by a deeply corrupt political elite operating within a flawed political system. And the political choices that they made were bad political choices,” Mr Adams said.

“There is deep distress out there. The people know the system doesn’t serve them, and that makes it a corrupt system.”

He was speaking at the launch yesterday of the party’s campaign in the National Gallery in Dublin, which was attended by its 41 candidates in 38 constituencies.

“There are two Irelands,” he told the gathering. “There is the Ireland of the elites and the mohair suits and the Galway tent and all that came out of Taca, and there is the other Ireland – which is of the people who care, and are decent and fair.”

Asked whether making bad political or economic decisions could be called corruption, Mr Adams said it was “when you keep making them and keep making them”.

Mr Adams said Sinn Féin would reverse the budget cuts and abolish the universal social charge, which he described as a “disgrace”. It would also cut ministerial salaries by 40 per cent and TDs’ salaries by 20 per cent.

He said his comments reflected deep-seated anger among voters, but added that Sinn Féin intended to fight a positive campaign.

The party’s economics spokesman Pearse Doherty said abolishing the social charge would cost €420 million. Instead, the party would increase the top rate of tax on people earning over €100,000 to 48 per cent, which would bring in €410 million.

Mr Doherty said Ireland did not need to draw down money from the EU and IMF because €30 billion was available this year from the National Pension Reserve and the Central Bank Exchequer Fund. He said AIB and Bank of Ireland should be fully nationalised and their non-performing debts moved to a “bad bank”. This bank would then be wound down and here bondholders would have to “take a hit”.

Mr Doherty said last December’s budget contained €873 million in social welfare cuts yet last week alone, Ireland repaid €750 million to a single bondholder who wasn’t even guaranteed by the State.