Only Sinn Féin will ‘stamp out rot at core’ of banking, party ardfheis told

Finance spokesman promises ‘zero tolerance’ for banks that exploit customers

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the party would ‘oversee the most radical shift in investment to regions and small towns in decades’, including a ‘massive increase’ in Garda numbers.  File photograph: Collins

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the party would ‘oversee the most radical shift in investment to regions and small towns in decades’, including a ‘massive increase’ in Garda numbers. File photograph: Collins

 

Only Sinn Féin will “take on the banks, hold them to account and stamp out the rot at the core of our banking system”, the party’s finance spokesman has told the party’s ardfheis in Derry.

In his address to delegates, Pearse Doherty TD, said the party would show “zero tolerance” to banks, the insurance industry and companies who exploit their customers.

He also pledged that Sinn Féin would “oversee the most radical shift in investment to regions and small towns in decades,” including a “massive increase” in Garda numbers.

During his speech, Mr Doherty reiterated a number of the party’s financial and social pledges, including the commitment that, in government, the party would increase the minimum wage by €2.50 an hour to €12.50 and abolish student fees.

The welfare of workers and families must come ahead of the “interests of banks, speculators and big business”, he said.

His No Consent, No Sale Bill “would stop banks from selling family homes to vultures without the consent of mortgage holders” and the party would end the “insurance rip-off” by banning dual pricing, increasing protection for policyholders and abolishing government levies. They would also, he pledged, close tax loopholes and “end tax breaks for bailed-out banks”.

The party would ensure, Mr Doherty said, “that those most able to shoulder the burden pay what they owe”.

He was one of a number of speakers who gave their support to John Downey, who was charged last month with the murder of two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers in Enniskillen in 1972.

He was extradited to Northern Ireland after being arrested in the Republic. He had handed himself in after losing an appeal to challenge the extradition in July.

Mr Doherty said Mr Downey’s arrest and detention had been “vindictive and an act of bad faith” and called for his release.

“He should be back home with his family without delay,” he said.

The North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly was one of a number of delegates who spoke in connection with motions of support for Mr Downey.

He also called for Mr Downey’s immediate release and said his arrest and charge had been an act of “bad faith” and an “attempt to overturn due process”. This stood in stark contrast to the treatment of Soldier F, the former member of the British Parachute Regiment who is facing charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, he said.