Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shinnernomics is nothing but empty rhetoric

Shinnernomics is nothing but empty rhetoric

Willie O’Dea – Irish Independent – 19 December 2010

Where Sinn Fein is not being economically reckless, it is being utterly hypocritical, writes Willie O'Dea

Poor Gerry Adams. I never expected to find myself uttering these words, but I cannot help it.

His first attempt to be added to the electoral register for Louth ended in failure when the local returning officer found a lack of evidence that he was living in the Louth-Meath East constituency on the dates required.

As his primary home in west Belfast, his rented flat in London and his holiday home in Donegal did not qualify, he may now have to add a home in Co Louth to his burgeoning property portfolio.

But this is not the reason I talk of poor Gerry Adams. I do so as he seems to be developing a condition I suppose may eventually be diagnosed as parliamentophilia: an unnatural obsession with being in as many parliaments as possible.

He wanted to get into Westminster -- well, to get into the building, restaurant, bars, and offices, but not the actual chamber itself. He wanted to get into Stormont (this time actually managing to show up in the chamber occasionally). Now he is fixated with getting into Dail Eireann.

Like other obsessives, he attempts to rationalise his compulsion as something he must do for the good of others. The reality is not so noble. His retreat from west Belfast reflects Sinn Fein's need to get him out of mainstream Northern politics before the May 2011 Assembly elections more than any desire to see him take the lead in Dublin.

Memories of his stumbling and clumsy performances in the 2007 General Election debates, particularly his routing by Michael McDowell, still linger. Are we to believe that the economic illiterate of 2007 has now metamorphosed into a Sinn Fein Joseph Stiglitz?

Of course not. While the party has improved the quality of its rhetoric with people like Pearse Doherty, the absolute vacuum at the heart of its economic approach has not diminished one iota. It is still the same old Shinnernomics.

Remember, these are the people who, back in 2007, demanded increases in mortgage interest, said that the social partnership deal did not go far enough and wanted even greater increases in the public sector pay bill. Now they tell us they saw the whole downturn coming.

They even try to reinvent their present. They may offer the rhetoric of being the only alternative in the South, but they are in government in the North. In Stormont, they impose cuts even though there are alternative revenue-raising opportunities. In the Dail, they reject all cuts even though there are no alternatives.

The Sinn Fein Education Minister in Stormont is cutting almost £70m (€82m) from the education budget without a whimper from Gerry, Martin or Pearse. So much for a united Ireland approach.

Their economic duplicity goes even further down here. They want to dump the IMF/EU rescue package, claiming that it hurts the poor and unemployed.

We borrow a third of the current €21bn social welfare budget in order to assist those most in need.

Rejecting the EU/IMF package would leave a €400m-a-week black hole in social welfare. That is €400m Sinn Fein would have to take back every single week from widows, pensioners, the unemployed and disabled to pay for its euroscepticism.

It is too big price a pay for Sinn Fein recklessness -- and that is before you add in how it would replace the €130bn the European Central Bank has loaned to Irish banks.

Where Sinn Fein is not being reckless, it is being hypocritical.

It opposes the wage and pension reductions for the Taoiseach and ministers, while conveniently forgetting that its MPs milked Westminster's second-home expenses system for nearly £500,000 though refusing to take their seats.

As reported in The Daily Telegraph in May 2009, Adams and McGuinness jointly claimed expenses of £3,600 a month for a two-bedroom flat in north London, though a local estate agent said similar flats in the area fetched only £1,400 a month.

Maybe this is what Martin Ferris meant when he said: "Be guided by your conscience."


Although the argument could be made that no politician in Ireland is without sin, this is a rather damning statement of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s total lack of understanding regarding the basic economics of government. Frankly, after reading about the collapse of the once vibrant Irish economy, I would not care to have any Irish political party controlling my finances. God save Ireland from the inability and incompetence of the current administration as well as the potential field of candidates that they will have to choose from to lead the country in the upcoming general election.

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