Sinn Féin Ard Fheis: Wealth tax in, property and water charges out

Sinn Féin will scrap property and water charges, while bringing in a new wealth tax if it can form a government next year, party leader Gerry Adams told its annual conference in Derry.

If handed the reins of power, Mr Adams said his party would introduce a third rate of income tax for the rich, which would take an extra 7c from every €1 earned over €100,000.

Turning to Northern Ireland, he called on working class loyalists and unionists to join Sinn Féin in a “common platform” pushing for political and social progress.

“We need reminding again and again that our flag is Orange,” he said.

“Orange as well as green. Orange is part of what we are.”

Loyalist musicians from the Derry Bands Forum attended the ard fheis.

Mr Adams said his party will next week introduce legislation proposing Irish citizens in the North and overseas be given the right to vote for the President.

The measure has already been recommended by a Constitutional Convention.

During his keynote speech to the gathering, Mr Adams positioned Sinn Féin as anti-austerity, pro-business and an all-island party.

The Sinn Féin leader said he believes his party, which shares devolved power in Belfast with the Democratic Unionist Party, could also lead a government in Dublin after next year’s general election.

“I believe we can win that mandate,” he said. “Sinn Féin wants to lead the next government.”

However, he ruled out being a junior coalition partner with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Mr Adams said his party’s rise in popularity in the South had sparked more strident opposition and he insisted a “tsunami of untruth and smears against us” didn’t work.

Fianna Fáil wrecked the economy, while the Fine Gael/Labour coalition was among the most regressive in the State’s history, he said.

“There has been a huge growth in social inequality. A third of our children now live in consistent poverty.

“Public money which should be used to end the scandal of patients lying on trolleys, to house our citizens, and to create jobs is being used to repay private bank debt.”

In a broadside at mainstream parties characterising Sinn Féin policies as fairytale economics, he said they had delivered “nightmare economics”.

“They refused to socialise the wealth, but they have no problem socialising the debt,” he said.

He also accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of refusing to negotiate with Ireland’s bailout masters on the banking debt heaped on Irish taxpayers.

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