Saturday 24 March 2018

Top economists help Sinn Fein update policies

Adams's party quietly drops anti-European stance but remains sharply critical of ECB


TOP UCD economist Professor Karl Whelan is among a number of mainstream economists who have advised Sinn Fein on its economic policies in recent months, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Younger TDs led by their finance spokesman Pearse Doherty and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald have sought to move the party's economic outlook firmly into the centre ground.

As part of that process, it has been confirmed that Prof Whelan is one of a number of economists brought in by Sinn Fein's economic team to provide insight into the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.

"Yes, I have spoken with Sinn Fein, as I have with Fine Gael and Labour.

"I was asked to come in and speak to them by Pearse Doherty and I was happy to do so. The only party I haven't addressed are the soldiers of fortune (Fianna Fail)," said Prof Whelan, who added that his involvement with Sinn Fein was not part of any official arrangement.

"There is no formal arrangement. I don't vote Sinn Fein and I don't support them," he added.

Also asked in to address the party has been economic analyst Tom McDonnell from the social think tank TASC.

The party spokesman on European affairs Padraig Mac Loughlainn told the Sunday Independent that it was important to speak to such people when formulating credible economic policies.

He said that in conjunction with the party's two in-house economic advisers -- Joanne Spain and Eoin O Broin -- the party had sought advice and insight from a number of economists from across the spectrum.

"Karl Whelan is just one of a number of economists we have spoken to. I have a lot of time for Karl and I agree with a lot of what he says.

"But there are things he says I disagree with. This is all part of making sure our policies are robust and credible," Mr Mac Loughlainn said.

In recent weeks, pronouncements from Sinn Fein have seen it overtly drop their previously staunch anti-European position.

Last month, the party produced an economic paper, The Eurozone Crisis -- Causes and Solutions, in which it claimed to suggest that it was always pro-Europe.

"Sinn Fein believes that Ireland's place is in Europe. Co-operation with our European partners is essential if we are to meet the challenges facing us in the time ahead.

"Sinn Fein has been consistent on the issue of economic and monetary policy and the European Union.

"Our approach has been guided as to what is in the best interests of Ireland and Irish citizens," the document states.

Echoing many critical comments made by Mr Whelan about the ECB in recent months, it continues: "Sinn Fein's warnings about a one-size-fits-all approach to Europe in relation to the current crisis in the eurozone is a result of a fundamental flaw in the single currency and the bad policy implemented by the European Central Bank."

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News