Saturday 25 October 2014

Sinn Fein's policies: are they the real deal?

Sinn Fein an unstoppable political force?

John Drennan 

Published 15/06/2014 | 02:30

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

WHEN it comes to Sinn Fein and policy, opponents claim that they seek them here, they seek them everywhere, but the damned elusive things cannot be found anywhere. And apparently even when they are found the sums don't add up; or so Sinn Fein's opponents claim anyway. So is Sinn Fein only offering us a political pig in a poke where, to quote The Jam in Going Underground "The public gets what the public wants", or have they produced a financially responsible alternative programme for government that is just waiting to be implemented. The Sunday Independent credibility test of 10 top Sinn Fein policies suggests, alas, that the former position is the more accurate one.

POLICY Repeal the local property tax to put disposable income into ordinary citizen’s hands; expected to save the average household €278.

Fiscally possible at an anticipated cost of €250m but goes against the long-term aim to reduce taxes on work such as PAYE and even longer-term plans to make local councils fiscally independent. Also breaks Troika deal.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 3/10

 

POLICY Repeal water charges on the grounds that the working poor have reached the limits of their capacity to pay.

Anticipated cost of over €500m per annum would be hard to fill via general taxation. Would also worsen relations with Europe at a time when the frailty of our economy means we have to be building alliances.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 2/10

 

POLICY New third tax rate of 48 per cent on those earning more than €100,000.

Sounds good in theory but expectations that it might raise more than €365m are open to scrutiny and will also be seen as representing a significant barrier to enterprise. Similar problems also apply to SF’s one per cent wealth tax and proposed increases in capital gains and capital acquisitions tax. The reason accountants exist is so wealthy people don’t have to pay tax.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 3/10

 

POLICY Abolish USC for all workers earning less than the minimum wage. At last a bit of socialism that would genuinely help over 296,000 working poor who are earning less than €17,542.

A positive and relatively cost free measure that would further abate the welfare trap.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 7/10

 

POLICY Create 100,000 jobs via a stimulus package of €10bn to be funded by the National Pension Reserve Fund, pensions and the European Investment bank.

Looks very like Fine Gael’s New Era proposals. Enough said.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 2/10

 

POLICY Abolition of the Seanad; this time they're actually serious.

Already been tried once and didn’t go so well. Credibility of SF’s stance is somewhat eroded by their previous strong stance in support of the Seanad until they thought it would be more popular to do a u-turn.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 1/10

 

POLICY Cut Taoiseach’s salary to €124,000, Ministers salary to €110,000 and TD's salary to €75,000 as part of political reform.

Given that Sinn Fein TD’s are able to live so well on the average industrial wage the promise is highly possible. As to whether it represents real political reform that’s a different question.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 7/10

 

POLICY Cut public sector pay by 15 per cent for those earning between €100,000 and €150,000 and by 30 per cent for those earning more.

Policy sounds good in theory but if you want to run a functioning civil service, HSE and state sector that policy will be binned fairly fast once SF secure the Mercedes.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 3/10

 

POLICY Sinn Fein's central health policy consists of the establishment of a universal health system free at the point of entry.

The chaos surrounding James Reilly’s proposals to introduce UHI suggests this is a bridge too far. The idea is not wrong but without accurate costing it has no credibility.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 2/10

 

POLICY Sinn Fein has pledged to oppose the reintroduction of third level fees.

Seeing as no other party plans to introduce fees it is difficult to get carried away. But, SF’s decision to attach itself to the herd on issues that are both profitable and popular means some credibility must be attached to the proposal.

CREDIBILITY INDEX 4/10

 

CREDIBILITY VERDICT: 34/100 = FAIL (D minus)

Sunday Independent

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