Speaking at the first European Forum on the Social & Solidarity Economy (SSE) in Brussels this morning, Ms Anderson says,
“Through my firsthand experience of the conflict in the north of Ireland I’ve seen very clearly how the SSE has been used to improve the lives of working people. This sector has thrived when the community stepped up and organised to fill the gap left by the state in providing for people’s needs.
“Although across Ireland, the SSE is active and growing, it is my view that the Irish government is still clearly failing to recognise the value and potential of the SSE. We can see a nominal commitment in its current Action Plan for Jobs to promoting SMEs and entrepreneurship. But there is a failure to fully acknowledge the SSE sector, let alone prioritise its development.
“Here at a European level, theEuropean Parliament formally recognised the ‘Social Economy’ in a resolution in 2009. The SSE represents approximately 10 per cent of all European companies. That’s more than 2 million organisations.
“But of course, we all know the European institutions are committed to an ideology of austerity and individualism. Again and again, we see attempts to distort and dilute the principles of the Social and Solidarity Economy in the European institutions.
“It’s our job to have that battle out each day in the Parliament and other EU institutions but we can only do it with the vocal support of the sector and the public in our Member States.
Ms Anderson continued,
“I believe the importance of this sector lies in the fact that when we build an SSE organisation, we are not only building an individual association or cooperative that empowers the local community, we are building an example of a fairer economy – a living, breathing alternative to the current system that puts profits before people. And this poses a threat to those in power in Ireland and in the EU.
“Sinn Féin representatives have been promoting and supporting the SSE across a range of platforms and we will continue to work alongside those with a commitment to the values of solidarity and community, to articulate the needs and the way forward for the Social and Solidarity Economy.” ENDS