‘That’s the standard technique of privatization, defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.’
The assets of our nation were declared in the 1916 Proclamation as belonging to the citizens of Ireland, a Proclamation which also pledged to cherish all the citizens of the state equally.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the biggest threats to people’s ability to provide labour, social, and environmental protection and represents a proposed transfer of economic and political sovereignty from the Irish citizens to multi-national corporations. A progressive government will oppose TTIP through whatever mechanisms possible. Should TTIP be ratified without the consent of the Irish people a progressive Government will provide for a referendum on our continued membership of the European Union. Opposition to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) should also be a priority for this government and any other trade agreement that contains an Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS).
This government will re-commit to neutrality and a non-militaristic foreign policy starting with the banning of the use of Irish airports for military purposes.
In Northern Ireland, we will work for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the Saint Andrew’s Agreement. Further, we will provide full support to the people of Northern Ireland in their rejection of austerity – to be vindicated through inter-governmental negotiations. A Progressive Government shall actively promote economic, social, cultural and political co-operation on an all-Ireland basis which will help to promote the development of unity among people and undermine sectarianism and division.
Solidarity with the developing world will be reinforced through meeting official development assistance targets and political, diplomatic and economic assistance with victims of occupation; in particular, the Palestinian people. Trade sanctions should be implemented against countries who breach international laws – up to and including the banning of imports of all goods. The Ambassadors of countries who committ war crimes should be expelled.
Further, we will join with other progressive Governments to restrain the undemocratic activities of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Indigenous Sector: We need a prosperous indigenous enterprise sector – to provide decent jobs, social security, and economic growth where money is reinvested in local communities. We need a plurality of enterprise models to maximise the shared benefits of growth throughout the economy in the areas of infrastructure, manufacturing, services as well as in the areas of caring, community and the arts.
Rejecting privatisation, we will expand public enterprises into new economic activities and provide for local government enterprises and new business models based on co-determination between public, private and civil society ownership.
We will promote worker-owner co-operative enterprises, whereby workers share in the decision-making process, and in the risks, profits and benefits. In these companies the right to work is prioritised and employment-security is an integral objective of the business model limited wage differentials promotes sustainability. We will establish institutional supports for this sector to provide access to capital, patient banking and management assistance; provide employees the option of buying out companies that close down and introduce tax incentives for new cooperative ventures.
We will establish a new basis for supporting indigenous enterprise through job creation agencies through a programme of Companies of Excellence which can lead the modernisation of the indigenous sector; in these companies employees and employers accept co-responsibility as the fundamental principle of managing the company: commitments to R&D, investment, innovation, labour rights and participation. This will form the basis of sectoral planning frameworks to grow Irish businesses in a coordinated and focused way.
Income Supports: A major reform of income supports to provide security for people in paid work and out of employment is required: pay-related unemployment and sickness benefit; pay-related state pensions; enhanced family supports (maternity benefits, paid paternity benefit, care and family leave and child-raising allowances). A priority will be the introduction of a ‘cost of disability’ payment and the ending of child poverty and deprivation which focuses on access to adequate resources and quality services along with enhanced labour market and social protection supports for one-parent families. We will bring all social protection payments up to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living over the medium-term. These reforms require moving from a welfare system based on poverty-avoidance and means-testing to a system based on social solidarity and mutuality through an enhanced social insurance system and universal payments in which everyone benefits including the full participation of the self-employed. To this end Basic Income strategies will be actively explored.
This effective New Social Contract will be funded by a long-term phasing in of an enhanced social wage, or employers’ social insurance, to the average paid by employers in other European countries.
Natural Resources: The natural resources of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland. The campaigns over our oil and gas reserves, woodlands, clean seas, archaeological and heritage sites, and community life point to the growing issue of ‘resource democracy’. We will constitutionally enshrine the ownership of natural resources with the Irish people. Natural resources will be entrusted to public and transparent control providing people the right to benefit from sustainable developments.
A national programme of repatriation, and subsequent public ownership, of surrendered natural resources will be initiated with those who seek, or who have been allowed to secure, access to our natural resources free or without proper re-imbursement/value to the Irish people. Where this requires negotiations these will have the objective of securing maximum value to the Irish citizens from their resources in a manner applicable in similar sized nations with potentially similar resources such as Norway. We will bring under public ownership the gas and oil resources off the Irish coast to allow revenue and profits to be used for the Irish people and the Irish economy.
Public Banking and Insurance: The fundamental lesson of the crisis is that we cannot rely on private banking based on short-term shareholder interests. We need a national public banking system for both households and enterprises – one with a mission statement that makes the bank partners in people’s living standards and business success, and promotes the public interest. We will promote public interest and mutuality in banking and insurance. To this end we will set up Public Banking and Insurance Review to promote public banking and an insurance system based on mutuality and co-operation rather than profit.