Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein calls for investment plan

Sinn Fein has called for a 13 billion euro investment boost to jobs and infrastructure as an alternative to accepting the European fiscal treaty.

As new French president Francois Hollande met German chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss a growth stimulus to be stitched into the agreement, Donegal South-West TD Pearse Doherty claimed that Ireland should act alone.

He said the Government, which is pushing for a "Yes" vote in the May 31 referendum, cannot promote both austerity and growth.

"We cannot get out of the mess that this country's in, we need to invest in jobs," said Mr Doherty. "We don't have to wait for a magic solution from Europe, we can do this here and now."

Mr Doherty and TDs Mary Lou McDonald and Peadar Toibin called for the Government to invest in a three-year stimulus package. They said money could be sourced from the National Pension Reserve Fund, the European Investment Bank and an investment from the private pension sector.

"The choice is austerity or investment in jobs," said Mr Toibin. Their proposed package includes measures to create around 130,000 jobs over the next three years. One such measure suggested was retrofitting homes.

Mr Toibin said the 13 billion euro boost could save around 800 million euro a year in social welfare while a 600 million euro job retention fund could keep up to 96,000 people in their jobs for a year.

Earlier, Eamon Gilmore made yet another appeal for the public to vote "Yes" in the referendum on the fiscal treaty. As Mr Hollande was being sworn into office in Paris, the Tanaiste insisted that adding growth measures to the text of the deal would be top of the agenda at the next European summit on May 23.

The new French president warned during his election campaign that he would not ratify the treaty unless it was revised to include a jobs and growth plan.

As it stands, the deal aims to impose stricter budgetary rules on member states and drive down deficits. It also includes measures to punish countries that fail to stick to European rules. Mr Hollande's ultimatum coupled with resistance to the treaty in the German parliament has increased uncertainty.


From Belfast Telegraph