‘Like Connolly, we need to be both practical and visionary’
ONLY the top 40% of households in the 26 Counties actually benefited from the last Budget with the greatest benefits going to the top 10%, Gerry Adams said at a wreath-laying ceremony at the James Connolly monument in Dublin today to mark the 99th anniversary of the revolutionary socialist leader’s execution by Britain after the 1916 Easter Rising.
“First and foremost Connolly was a workers leader,” Gerry Adams said.
Describing his role as a Belfast organiser for the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) in 1911, he said:
“He organised the workers of Belfast, especially the linen slaves, thousands of young women who worked in hellish sweat conditions in the mills which were the backbone of the Northern economy.”
Speaking of his role during the 1913 Lockout, Adams said Connolly saw the Irish Citizen Army not only as a defence force for workers, but a revolutionary army dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism:
“1913 was an epic struggle which the Dublin bosses and the owner of the Irish Independent newspaper, William Martin Murphy, set out to crush the workers and their organisations. Eventually the Dublin workers were starved back to work – but they and Connolly remained defiant and continued to organise.”
“During that 1916 Rising, Connolly was the Commandant General of the Dublin Division of the Army of the Irish Republic. Pearse described him as ‘the guiding brain of our resistance’. He was one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation which guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all our citizens and pledges to cherish all the children of the nation equally – sadly real equality does not exist in this society”
Speaking opposite the SIPTU trade union headquarters, the Sinn Féin leader said:
“Fine Gael and Labour’s four Budgets have been the most unfair and unequal since the economic crash. There has been a huge growth in social inequality. A third of our children now live in consistent poverty. Over 1,000 children are homeless in this city.”
Low-income and middle-income earners have been severely penalised by Fine Gael and Labour, he said. The abolition of the PRSI ceiling, increase in VAT, the introduction of a Family Home Tax and Water Charge have significantly increased the tax bill of ordinary workers.
“The abject failure to do anything practical to alleviate the plight of those in mortgage distress or those struggling with spiraling rents has further increased financial pressure on ordinary families. These are the same damaging policies agreed by Fianna Fáil with the Troika in 2010 and implemented by Fine Gael and Labour since 2011.
“There is a better, fairer way. Sinn Féin advocates a reform of the tax system to ease the burden on low and middle-income earners while also increasing revenue to invest in a fair and just recovery.”
He said that Sinn Féin in Government would:
● Abolish the Property Tax and Water Charges;
● Reform the USC to ease the burden on lower earners;
● Ensure high-earners pay their fair share of income tax;
● Increase employer’s PRSI to address the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund;
● Introduce a wealth tax to generate funds for investment in job creation.
“Sinn Féin passionately believes that the economy must serve society, not the other way around,” Gerry Adams said.
The Sinn Féin leader also welcomed the recently-published ‘Policy Principles for a Progressive Irish Government’ published on May Day by the unions affiliated to the Right to Water Campaign.
Gerry Adams said Sinn Féin needs to prove its policies are workable and yield results:
“Like Connolly, we need to be both practical and visionary. For Connolly, socialism and national self-determination were two sides of the same coin.”