Sinn Féin leader in tax rise warning

Sinn Féin today refused to rule out tax increases if the party gets into government, but said any rises would be fair and committed to delivering better public services.

Sinn Féin today refused to rule out tax increases if the party gets into government, but said any rises would be fair and committed to delivering better public services.

Party president Gerry Adams also said that he wouldn’t discount sharing power with any political party at the moment.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern insisted this week that there was no prospect of a "cosy deal" between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin after the next general election as its policies were incompatible with those he had been pursuing all his political life.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell also claimed that Sinn Féin’s aim was to get the balance of power and use it to control the next government.

But Mr Adams said in Dublin today: “Sinn Féin wants to be in government. We’re not mealy-mouthed about that.

“But we are seeking a root and branch review of the entire tax system to ensure it is fair and equitable to all and will deliver better public services.

“We have the ideological view that the economy should be for the majority of the people and any surplus should be used to build public services in health, education and housing.”

He said his party’s general priorities within government would include equality, distribution of wealth, the Northern Ireland peace process, the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and Irish unity.

Sinn Féin’s Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said that the party wasn’t intent on playing a permanent role in opposition.

“The only way to implement our broad policy platform is to be in government.”

“But as a party we’re only interested in being in government to make progress on the equality agenda.”

He said that if tax increases were necessary to deliver free medical cards for all those under 18, the party would be prepared to do it.

Mr Adams said the Government would have to spend twice as much on social provision to get into line with other European countries

He wouldn’t rule out sharing power with any other party and said it was revealing that other parties were already ruling out coalition with Sinn Féin.

“The revealing thing is that they believe that Sinn Féin will be in a position to have a mandate,” he said.

He said he never took the electorate for granted but that the party planned to place candidates in all 43 constituencies.

Mr Adams remarked that Sinn Féin had been accused in the past by political opponents of having no policies and of being a "Brits Out" single issue party.

He claimed that Ireland currently had the widest gap between rich and poor among industrialised nations, except the US.

He described the last general election as a scam and an accountant’s election, where the main political leaders refused to debate issues.

When pointed out that the Sinn Féin had no experience of government in the Republic, Mr Adams replied: “We couldn’t do worse.”

“I watch this and it’s a scary business. I deal a lot with the Irish and British and US governments and sometimes it’s scary.”

He said the Progressive Democrats was sharing government with a party that it told the electorate was dishonest, but that if they got more votes they would make them more honest.

The West Belfast MP said that the party had been told in the past that it didn’t make the grade but Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brun were head and shoulders above everybody else as ministers in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Of the current Coalition government, he said: “Rural development doesn’t exist. Transport in Dublin is a mess. With justice, there are more killings here … there is a gang war out there.”

He also denied that Sinn Féin was anti-business.

“We’re not anti-business but we shouldn’t canonise the corporate sector. Democratic capitalism isn’t a charity. They’re here because they want to turn a profit but it’s the workers that create all the wealth.”

Mr Adams said he was involved in a pro-enterprise task force in his West Belfast constituency dealing with business leaders, community workers and public servants.

The MP, who has just returned from a speaking tour of Canada, reiterated the economy was there for the benefit of all citizens.

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