Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Wednesday) insisted that Donegal would no longer be the ‘Forgotten County’ under a Sinn Féin Government, and says that the party would immediately legislate to ensure that all future budgets would be subject to equality budgeting.
Deputy Doherty, who was making the comments today on what is the second last day of campaigning before polling day on Friday, added that a Sinn Féin government would ensure that budgetary proposals would be independently assessed to ensure that rural counties are no longer neglected or disproportionately disadvantaged in future.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Under the lifetime of the outgoing Fine Gael and Labour Government, Sinn Féin has consistently advocated for the introduction of legislation which would see all future budgets produced by governments being subject to equality budgeting.
“This in effect would provide a statutory mechanism to ensure that all budgetary decisions are independently assessed to show how financial measures would impact on various sections of our society.
“In essence, Sinn Féin proposed that each and every budgetary measure would be analysed in respect of how its implementation would impact on people taking into account all the variables such as their age, income level, background, where the reside, marital status and so on.
“It offers citizens, particularly those sections of society who traditionally have been marginalised under successive Government such as communities from right across Donegal, the necessary protection to guarantee that nobody is disproportionately disadvantaged or otherwise as a direct result of budgets produced by government.
“And despite Sinn Féin having previously tabled amendments to the Finance Bill which would have provided for equality proofing, each time Fine Gael and Labour have rejected its introduction.
“The Government fear equality budgeting because they know that were it to be introduced it would highlight the massive inequity and harmful impact which their decisions have had on the least well off in this state – not least those living in rural areas like Donegal.
“One only has to look at figures released this very week from the Central Statistics Office which show once again that people in Donegal continue to have the lowest levels of disposable income in this state, and this is due to successive government’s having taken decisions which impact most negatively on specific sections of society the most.
“This Friday, the people of Donegal have a choice. They can chose to elect a government that wishes to maintain the status quo and which will target low income earners, or they can chose to vote for a progressive government which will ensure that nobody is disproportionately affected by the decisions it takes on behalf of citizens.
“If the people elect a Sinn Féin led Government, we will legislate to ensure the all future budgets are equality proofed so that for the first time in the history of this state, the people of Donegal will no longer be able to say that they live in the Forgotten County.”