Sinn Féin: Water charges and property taxes our red-line issues

Juno McEnroe, Political Correspondent

Sinn Féin say it has been a long-standing policy of the party to abolish the Special Criminal Court but it says that red-line issues for the party are scrapping water charges and property taxes.

Launching his party’s General Election manifesto in Dublin, Gerry Adams said that the all the party proposals have been fully costed over its plans to spend €10.6bn over the next five years.

The party says it will take in extra cash through a sugar tax, a betting tax as well as special tax of 7c out of every euro on those earning over €100,000.

The party is also promising voters an extra holiday annually to mark the Easter Rising, and 250,000 new jobs if they enter Government.

Special Criminal Court

Answering questions following the latest gang shooting in Dublin, Mr Adams said that it was a "long standing position" to advocate for the abolishment of the Special Criminal Court.

He called the people who had carried recent shootings as “thugs” and “gangsters”.

The party manifesto says that it will repeal the Offences Against the State Act.

Mr Adams said it was “very opportunistic” of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to criticise his party over its call to scrap the Special Criminal Court.

Deputy party leader Mary Lou McDonald said there were obviously concerns about how jurors would be protected if the special non-jury court is scrapped. She pointed to measures in other jurisdictions where juries hear cases through video link.

The Government had never looked at these options, said Deputy McDonald.

The party has also promised to reinstate full welfare payments for people under 26 years of age, to abolish prescription charges and to introduce free GP care for all - if in power.

Sinn Féin said it wanted the issue of wealth tax examined which would be a 1% tax on all assets over €1m.

This was not included in their manifesto because it could not be costed by the Department of Finance, it said.

Referendums

The party has also promised a number of referendums, if put in Government, including ensuring water remains in public ownership, asking the people about a united Ireland and whether Ireland’s neutrality should be enshrined in the constitution.

Speaking at the launch of the election manifesto today, Deputy Adams said: “The Sinn Féin manifesto is a plan for change. It is a plan for a sustainable and fair recovery.

“We believe that citizens have fundamental rights which the Government has a responsibility to deliver.

“Instead of delivering a democratic revolution, Fine Gael and Labour have brought chaos to the lives of our citizens.

"Now Enda Kenny is committed to the reckless boom and bust policies of Fianna Fáil. He doesn't believe in a citizen-centred, rights-based society.

“In this election citizens have a real choice. They will decide whether a new government invests in building a just and fair society or whether it rewards high earners and the elites.

“We have a plan for a fair recovery that grows the economy and brings stability to the lives of individuals and working families. In Government Sinn Féin would abolish Water Charges and the Family Home Tax.

"We would take nearly 300,000 citizens out of the USC net.

“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have all sought to privatise our public health system. Sinn Féin's plan is to move from the two-tier, public-private system to a universal health service, free at the point of delivery to all citizens as a right.

“The current housing and homelessness crisis happened because Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour refused to invest in social and affordable housing.There are now 90,000 households on local authority waiting lists, 5,000 people homeless, including 1,500 children.

“Sinn Féin believes in the right to a home.

"We are committed to building 100,000 social and affordable homes and to guaranteeing rent certainty. Sinn Fein has a plan to deliver 250,000 jobs over the next five years.

“Sinn Féin also wants to see far-reaching reform of the political system. In the time ahead we will seek to deliver a referendum on a united Ireland.

"We will introduce northern representation to the Dáil, and extend Presidential voting rights to citizens in the north and the Diaspora. We will introduce a Green Paper on Irish Unity.

“2016 is a time to deliver on the promise of the 1916 Proclamation. Ireland is a small country – all 32 counties. It is a wonderful place to live in.

“The Taoiseach wants it to be the best place in the world to do business in. We are more ambitious for our people. We want Ireland to be the best place to grow up in, to grow old in, to enjoy life in.

“For the first time since the foundation of this State, there is an opportunity to elect a progressive, Sinn Féin-led Government which place the rights of citizens at the centre of Government decision making.”

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