Since 2007 our world has been turning in the wrong direction.
The economic crisis, brought about by the greed of bankers has created misery for millions of people while those who created it escaped unscathed.
Ordinary people have been made to pay for the mistakes of an elite few who have been sheltered from the harsh economic realities.
And if the Tory-led British government’s plans austerity policies are implemented here, the situation will only get worse.
Cuts are not the not the answer to the economic problems we face.
We in Sinn Féin believe that investment is the only way out of the crisis. And those who can pay must pick up the tab for the mess they created.
It’s not too late to start investing and we need to invest in a range of sectors to kick start the economy.
We need to see investment in all levels of education to equip our young people with the right skills; in renewable power to meet our energy needs in an affordable and sustainable manner; in our infrastructure network and in our environment.
All of these things could be afforded for if big companies paid the level of tax they should. The current culture of tax evasion an avoidance is wrong and must be tackled.
I recently took a delegation of representatives of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) from across the North to the European Parliament to explore opportunities for growth.
All of these companies struggle to pay tax and wage bills while providing the backbone of our economy. At the same time major multinational companies pay less than one per cent in taxes.
As a result of tax evasion and fraud governments across Europe lose €1 trillion each year – that’s €2,000 annually for every EU citizen.
Just imagine what could be done with this money. We could invest in road projects such as the A5 and A6; fund schools and hospitals across Ireland; and support our entrepreneurs by investing in start-up businesses.
Money that the Executive needs to create new jobs and opportunities is instead lining the pockets of a select few.
It is time to challenge this scandal. Instead of being made to pay for the mess created by greed, people need to challenge the austerity agenda of the Tory-led government.
This government, made up of a cabinet of millionaires, is intent on dismantling the welfare state, claiming they can’t pay for it, while at the same time ignoring the fact that since the start of the banking crisis around €7 trillion have flowed into the vaults of the rich and powerful through tax evasion and avoidance.
The right wing governments in London, Dublin and across Europe do not want to draw your attention to that.
The expanded Sinn Féin team at the European parliament, which now includes four MEPs from across Ireland, will continue to challenge this agenda.
It’s time that people from all traditions stopped allowing the British government to divide us. Ends/Críoch