Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Sinn Fein: the key issue is cross-border co-operation

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams launched his party's manifesto in Belfast

WHAT’S THE BIG PICTURE?

These days Sinn Fein is pushing not so much for Irish unity and British withdrawal anytime soon, as for cross-border co-operation and Britain to pay up.

The manifesto demands a “referendum on Irish unity”, but when I asked Gerry Adams if a pro-unity vote was likely by 2016 he said he didn’t know about that, or how the vote would go either, but predicted “there will be a referendum at some point which will vote for Irish unity and I look forward very much to that day”.

In the meantime Sinn Fein, which has elected representatives on both sides of the border, intends organising everything possible, from health to the Irish language, on a cross- border basis.

Like the DUP, Sinn Fein also wants to meet David Cameron to ask him to cough up the £18bn promised by Gordon Brown.

Everything must be done by agreement so to improve relationships, according to Martin McGuinness.



SOME KEY POINTS

  • An all-Ireland constitution voted for by referendum.
  • Harmonise taxation on an all-Ireland basis.
  • End competition between Invest NI and the IDA for inward investment.
  • Tax raising and varying powers to be devolved from Westminster.
  • Implementing the Review of Public Administration to reduce the number of councils from 26 to 11.
  • Banks to be asked to stump up £400m for a sustainable development bond over four years. The Credit Union movement is to be asked to contribute a further £100m. It is unclear what happens if the financial institutions decline.
  • An all-Ireland strategy for more Gaeltacht areas and more Irish language films.
  • A supermarket Ombudsman.
  • Reinstate the PSNI 50/50 Catholic/Protestant recruitment policy.
  • 3% of GDP to be invested in research and development.
  • Sinn Fein will also block any increase in student fees.

ATMOSPHERE AT LAUNCH

Sinn Fein radiated confidence and good humour, but there was an almost dated feel to proceedings.

Irish traditional music played in the background, there was a long video summarising the manifesto and Gerry Adams answered all the questions from the floor, despite the fact he isn’t actually standing. All the candidates sat behind him like a Greek chorus, only silent.

“Sure he is pure genius, that’s what you do when you have a great leader,” one activist quipped when asked why this was.

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