Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Republic's Celtic Tiger governments acted like lottery winners, says Adams

Irish governments that presided over the Celtic Tiger economic boom now look like lottery winners who 'went on the tear' and squandered their money, Sinn Fein claimed yesteday.

The party's President Gerry Adams said republicans had called for better use of the wealth and believed those warnings were now being fulfilled in the economic crisis gripping the Republic.

But after his party's disappointing performance in the Irish General Election, he said Sinn Fein re-organised and had played a lead role in opposing the Lisbon Treaty.

Prior to the last election pollsters had predicted major gains for Sinn Fein, but in the end it lost one of its five Dail seats, claiming it had been squeezed out in the major battle between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

But Mr Adams said: "The message that we had in the election - I think you can see now given what has happened since.

"The unprecedented wealth was not used in a sensible, egalitarian way to build public services, to plan strategically for when there was going to be a decline in the economy.

"It was as if you won the lotto and went off on the tear and treated all your friends, then you woke-up one morning and your money had all gone, but in this case it was public money."

He added: "But all of the conservative parties are guilty of that.

"You still have children being educated in Portabcabins, the disgraceful situation in the health services, the lack of infrastructure, the lack of training and development, even the roll-out of broadband.

"All these are issues that any sensible government would have taken on-board given that everybody knew that the wealth couldn't continue indefinitely."

The Sinn Fein president said his party had campaigned on that message, but had reviewed tactics after the elections and overhauled its organisation.

"Unless you have an organisation that is deeply imbedded in communities and working with people, then you're not going to make republicanism relevant in their daily lives," he said.

"Where we were able to do that, we withstood what was a quite a unique election outcome. Where we did not, we took a hit."

The Sinn Fein President denied the results forced a change in his role.

He said Martin McGuinness's position as joint First Minister north of the border had placed him in the media eye, while the party deliberately opted to increase the profile of other senior figures, particularly in the south.

Mr Adams said: "It's part of my job to create the space and to ensure that the party is led by as wide a collective leadership as possible."

The decision of voters to reject the Lisbon Treaty in the Republic's referendum caused political shockwaves across Europe and derailed reform of the EU.

Mr Adams said his party played an important role in the campaign and would consider the proposals being put forward by the Irish government for a second referendum in late 2009.

"The Lisbon Treaty vote wasn't entirely down to Sinn Fein, but Sinn Fein was the only main party who actually argued for a No vote," he said.

"And that was the first opportunity we had to apply the lessons we learned from the General Election.

"We studied - unlike the government who supposedly negotiated it - the Lisbon Treaty.

"We identified what we thought were weaknesses and shortcomings on it. We went out and campaigned on that and the people voted accordingly."

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