Sinn Féin proposes 'solidarity tax'


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has told his party's annual conference that rather than a Government reshuffle, the Government "needs to go".

In his keynote address to the party’s ardfheis in the RDS in Dublin last night Mr Adams said Sinn Féin was opposed to the Fianna Fáil/Greens coalition because it was unfair and unsustainable.

He outlined a €3.2 billion stimulus plan to help bring the Republic out of recession and on Northern Ireland repeated that the Hillsborough Castle Agreement was a "staging post" - although he refrained from specifically saying it was a staging post to a united Ireland.

Mr Adams said when the Celtic Tiger economy was at its height, and when the surplus of wealth was the greatest in the history of this state, "the establishment refused to distribute the wealth in the common good and to secure the future".

"They would not nationalise the wealth. But now they are happy to nationalise the debt. There is talk of a cabinet reshuffle. This Government doesn't need a reshuffle. This Government needs to go," he added.

"Do they really think the people are amadáns? Do they really expect the people to foot the bill for the bankers, the developers and their political cronies? The people need to send them a message. The people need to tell them to get lost," he said.

Mr Adams said that there was a Sinn Féin alternative to the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) and the other Government measures to bring the Republic out of recession.

"Sinn Féin is opposed to this government because it's not fair and because its policies are unsustainable. But we are also opposed to them because there is an alternative that will work," he added.

Mr Adams outlined Sinn Fein's proposed "major €3.2 billion stimulus package".

He proposed:

establishing a jobs retention fund for small and medium businesses.

setting up a youth jobs fund to create 20,000 jobs.

Using the public sector to kickstart the economy.

Introducing a social clause in public contracts to create jobs.

Exploiting "Brand Ireland" and introducing an aggressive all-Ireland export strategy.

Sinn Féin was also proposing a third rate of tax for those earning more than €100,000 a year; a "solidarity tax" of 1 per cent on all assets worth more than €1 million, excluding farm land; and an end to the "hundreds of unfair tax reliefs which this government refuses to get rid of".

Mr Adams did not make specific comment about the paedophile charges facing his brother Liam but more generally when referring to the cancer that is affecting his wife Colette said that this has been "a difficult period for my clann".

He said the Hillsborough deal which is due to lead to the creation of a Department of Justice within the Northern Executive on April 12th was hugely important and symbolic. "This agreement is a staging post. It is proof that change is possible."

Referring to the resignation of the Minister of Defence Willie O'Dea over his attack on Sinn Fein's Maurice Quinlivan Mr Adams said, "The only difference between Willie and the other smearers and backstabbers is that Willie got caught out."

"Sinn Féin will dismantle the culture of political cronyism and the golden circles," he added.

Mr Adams said that the forthcoming Westminster elections would provide Sinn Féin with an opportunity to build on its current mandate of five House of Commons seats.

He defended the Sinn Féin Minister of Education Caitriona Ruane and said the opposition to her scrapping the Eleven Plus was "mainly class driven and arises from the desire of a small minority to protect an unequal system".

He said that unionism knew that Sinn Fein was a willing partner in a "government that is responsive, effective and delivering".

"One of the big tasks facing the Executive is to eradicate sectarianism. The vast majority of people want this. There is work for everyone. But it is up to unionists to demonstrate that unionism and sectarianism are not the same and that they are as opposed to sectarianism as we are," he added.