Mary Lou McDonald: ‘SF will not tax people into oblivion’

Sinn Féin leader also says her party shares ‘common goals’ with businesses

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald with Dublin Chamber CEO Mary Rose Burke and Aebhric McGibney, director of public and international affairs at Dublin Chamber. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

Mary Lou McDonald says Sinn Féin will not tax people into “oblivion” and has a deep interest in promoting successful businesses, which share “common goals” with her party.

She has also described foreign direct investment as a "core component of the investment landscape" in Ireland and said Sinn Féin has a "vested interest in commercial and business success".

Speaking to an audience of Dublin business leaders, Ms McDonald said: “I want to say to you very clearly: I don’t see our interests at odds. I think we share common interests and common goals.”

Other parties, including Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, have repeatedly said Sinn Féin's economic policies make them unsuitable coalition partners.


Participation in government

In what will be seen as an effort to reach out to the business community and assuage concerns about her party’s possible participation in government, Ms McDonald has addressed a number of business groups in recent weeks.

She spoke last week at a breakfast meeting of the Dublin Chamber, which followed a recent meeting with the Wexford Chamber of Commerce.

It was the Dublin Central TD's first appearance before the Dublin Chamber since she was an MEP in the mid-2000s.

Ms McDonald said her party’s interests are the same as those in business – that jobs should be created – but also insisted Sinn Féin is left-wing.

“I am very conscious, to be frank with you, as the leader of Sinn Féin that this scenario is sometimes presented as those that represent the working class and the interests of workers versus those who create jobs, who create prosperity, who create resources,” she said.

“Actually, that is a very crude depiction of life and it is very far off the mark. Sinn Féin is a party of the left. There is no great surprise in me telling you that. We are a party that is committed to social justice. We are a united Ireland party as well.”

But she added: "We are party that has a deeply vested interest in commercial and business success. For me to properly represent the people who live in my neighbourhood in Cabra or the folks who live in the north inner city, they have to have places in which to work.

“They need to have decent employment. They need stability and they need a good relationship with those with whom they work and for whom they work.”

Increased taxes

Speaking afterwards to The Irish Times, Ms McDonald said her party still believes in increased taxes for those earning €100,000 or more, but said Sinn Féin will not tax people “into oblivion”.

She has, in recent weeks, set out her stall “in saying that taxation policy isn’t about vengeance”, she said.

“It is about funding services. It has never been our aim to penalise middle income workers.

“I mean that people who are fortunate enough to have very large incomes, people who are more fortunate and who are wealthy and who have very large asset bases, should pay more, a bit more.

“I also meant that I recognise there is a whole section of people who are struggling, who constantly have their hand in their pockets. Who pay tax, who pay a lot of tax and, frankly don’t have a sense that they are getting the services in return for it.”