Sinn Fein’s ‘creative accountancy’ over funding the gap for a United Ireland

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SubsidySo, briefly, Newton Emerson gives us confirmation of what you probably already knew from listening to Gerry Adams talking to Tara Mills in last week’s big interview on Sinn Fein’s #BorderPoll. That is that the party’s figures simply do not add up.

In yesterday’s Irish News he noted:

It is true that DFP’s last report showed revenue rising to 12.7bn but the same report showed public spending rising to £23.2bn, so the £10bn gap remains. Mr Adams tried to muddy this by referring to our share of UK defence and debt but he forgot that our UK defence contribution is only £1.1bn, our share o the Irish Defence Forces budget would be £300m and our debt would go with us into a united Ireland.

He goes on to note that that the total amount of corporation tax generated in Northern Ireland is £775m, so that if there is a downward swing in the real figure it is likely that ‘the real funding gap for Irish unity may be closer to £8bn than £10, but it is nowhere near £5bn, let alone “significantly less”.

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  • GoldenFleece

    Sinn Fein muddling economic figures? Surely not! ;-)

    People do not like uncertainity, that is why an United Ireland will always be an uphill struggle.

    The SNP is finding that out the hard way.

  • OneNI

    I continually see SF representatives bemoaning apparent duplication of services and the need for a single market in Ireland (as opposed in Europe?) and yet they never seem to consider the option of NI re-joining the UK.
    Why not? Could it be they are narrow minded?

  • JR

    Sinn Fein are as much a hinderance to a UI as they are a help. The great propaganda victory for unionists has been to tie any talk of a United Ireland to sinn fein. Untill very recently the vast majority of the pro unity vote voted SDLP. This innitative should have come from the sdlp but it hasn’t. It is now their job, and th job of the parties in the south to get the real issues out in the open. a United ireland does not equal Gerry adams.

    As a business owner near the border competing sets of industrial regulations mean it is easier for me do busniss with people on the isle of White or shetland Islands than a mile down the road. I pay two professional bodies, I pay higher insurance, I submit two sets of tax returns doubling by administration costs. I have a soliciter in Newry and one in Dundalk increasing my legal fees. I often pay £10 for 2 min phone calls because my northern no is on roaming even though I was still in the north. and their southern mobiles are on roaming too. These are real issues.

  • megatron

    SF should have a much easier figure to defend and explain- however pretty much any figure you come up with will be wrong.

    Are we really saying UK will go from £10bn to zero over night?

    If NI was a Company the UK would pay ROI to take it off its hands so why would that not be the case here. I dont know either by the way.

    Another good reason for the Border Poll is to get these issues into the open. The best possible outcome from a border poll would be FF / FG explaining how a UI can work.

  • Cric

    The most embarrassing argument for the continuation of the Union is that we need another group of humans to fiscally prop us up, because we are not capable of providing for ourselves.

    It may be true, but it’s still embarrassing.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Has anybody carried out an economic case for the rest of Ireland rejoining the UK? Get the advantages of the North South savings without losing the East West economies.

    Another unfactored economic consequence would be capital flight, GB companies not willing to operate in two juristictions, or even an exodus of a proportion of Unionists with their expertise.

  • megatron

    As someone who works in ROI but lives in NI, I agree with JR’s sentiments.

    The border has a huge effect on people who live near it – simple things like roaming /tv reception etc are a disaster.

  • megatron

    Sorry for multiple comments – last one:

    Golden Fleece – people do not like uncertainty might be true at this moment in time – but a quick glance at history shows that is a gross oversimplification.

  • BluesJazz

    Are we really saying UK will go from £10bn to zero over night?

    Yes.

    That’s what Westminster has told Scotland, if we want to secede then it’s a clean cut. UK taxpayers are in no mood to hand out money to other states.

    On the matter of mobile roaming costs, that’s something the North/South body should sort pronto.

  • megatron

    Drumlins rock / others

    I would see the most important point being the removal of the border. I am not sure what benefits except removal of flexibility joining the UK could have? Could you outline them (assuming a UI would pay for itself).

    (I am assuming UK stays in EU) – if it doesnt then a UI would have to choose between EU and UK)

  • megatron

    BluesJazz

    If you are right what happens to NI share of UK debt? Why would ROI take it on?

    I am not sure definitive answers are appropriate.

  • Cric

    If we get the UK’s share of debt I want at least one Nuclear submarine.

  • Cric

    And a couple of military bases in Cyprus.

  • JR

    “On the matter of mobile roaming costs, that’s something the North/South body should sort pronto.”

    any thoughts on the double administration, competing industrial regulations, Insurance costs, payments to two professional bodies, the fact that companies down the road pay lower corporation tax, the fact the border provides an easy escape route and cover for petty criminals, burgalers, car thieves, fuel launderers, smugglers etc. The fact that no party opperating here has any power in Westminster, we may aswell vote for the monster raving looney party for all the repersentation we will get. We live with governments in westminster making policies more suitable for the city of london than Ni eg corporation tax. We are at englands whim whether we are in or out of europe, I could go on. Oh and as a final aside, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, South Armagh and South Down. made it clear they did not want to be part of the uk 100 years ago.

  • Mick Fealty

    DR,

    “Has anybody carried out an economic case for the rest of Ireland rejoining the UK? Get the advantages of the North South savings without losing the East West economies.”

    This would be fantastically stupid and a waste of money and resources. Politics moves people, not economic surveys. And there is no politics extant in the south that would make that happen.

    But I must admit, I expected better after the amount of time Gerry’s spent on this project. He’s treating own party with contempt by producing nonsense like this, never mind the case for unifying the island.

    Truth is though JR, no northern nationalist has really begun to get their teeth into the grand problem. And when a southerner puts their oar in they are told contemptuously (by other nationalists) to go away and stop queering the pitch.

    I’ve said it before, nationalism needs some kind of space where this stuff can be broken down and begun from first principles. With no messers allowed.

  • JR

    Mick,
    This is not an ideal world, I am dealing with these border issues every day, as my father does and my grandfather did and I am growing impatient. The Border already effects my children, as Gaelgoirí they do not have the right to interact with the state through their first language as they would if we lived a mile down the road.

  • tacapall

    Lets be honest Sinn Fein have not the almost 100 years of experience that unionists have had in making sure the begging bowl is used wisely. This state from its formation has survived on a subvention from Britain, unionists have no moral high ground to to preach to others about their financial incompetence. But seeing as a change in the constitutional status has no effect on ones identity, your still British if you want to be, then Britain still has a duty of care for those citizens. Its naive to think that although the, GFA is an agreed by all parties process, that no-one in the two governments had the foresight to have some sort of economical package or plan in place for that possible future change in the constitutional status.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry, but counting a rise in revenue, and then choosing to discount a similar rise in spending is basic accountancy is not incompetence. It’s, erm, ‘creative’.

  • Blue Hammer

    JR
    “any thoughts on the double administration, competing industrial regulations, Insurance costs, payments to two professional bodies, the fact that companies down the road pay lower corporation tax, the fact the border provides an easy escape route and cover for petty criminals, burgalers, car thieves, fuel launderers, smugglers etc.”

    This would be the same in any other part of the world where two administrations meet and is not exclusive to Ireland. Even throughout mainland Europe, and to some extent in GB, with, for example different laws/rules/etc applying in Scotland to those that apply in England.

    “The fact that no party opperating here has any power in Westminster, we may aswell vote for the monster raving looney party for all the repersentation we will get.”

    Ostensibly the Alliance is the NI face of LibDems, SDLP is the Labour Party’s “sister” party, and either UCUNF or the actual NI Conservatives represent the Tories. That we vote otherwise is our choice. No point anyone gurning about representation when one of our major parties stands on a ticket of abstentionism and gets elected time after time,

    “We live with governments in westminster making policies more suitable for the city of london than Ni eg corporation tax. We are at englands whim whether we are in or out of europe, I could go on.”

    The entire UK lives at the whim of SE England in general, specifically the City of London. Do you think the geordies take the same view as the City bankers on european issues or any others for that matter? Much like in RoI the people are governed at the whim, in the main, of greater Dublin. The greater population centres in a democratic administrative area tend to hold sway – it’s the way of the world.

    “Oh and as a final aside, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, South Armagh and South Down. made it clear they did not want to be part of the uk 100 years ago.”

    By voting in a UK general election. Not a referendum. SF got around 7%, let’s be generous and say 8% of the popular vote in the 1918 election.

  • Old Mortality

    JR
    ‘Oh and as a final aside, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, South Armagh and South Down. made it clear they did not want to be part of the uk 100 years ago.’
    They can now reflect on how fortunate they were for most of those 100 years.

    And when is SF going to break the bad news to their core support that not all of them will be entitled to their ‘entitlements’ in a united Ireland. Current levels of state dependency in Northern Ireland would be simply unsustainable in such a small economy. Will we see SF offices refusing to help with benefit claims in the interests of achieving unity?

  • tacapall

    Regardless whether its creativity or incompetence Mick it doesn’t change the fact that this part of Ireland is a financially unsustainable entity that will never be able to stand on its own without either handouts from Britain or the support of all the people. People can harp on all they like about the advantages of being in the union but that wont change the fact that its survival depends on the generosity of others.

  • Dec

    ‘UK taxpayers are in no mood to hand out money to other states.’

    Yeah, they get enough of that at home.
    And stop comparing us to Scotland. Some people in England want Scotland in the UK – there’s the difference.

  • Old Mortality

    Tacapall
    NI is not a financially unsustainable entity. It was only after direct rule that public expenditure exploded. Freeze public sector pay and benefit payments for a few years and you’d begin to see quite a difference. Any nationalist who takes unity seriously should be gagging for such austerity, unless they happen to work in the public sector, of course.

  • Neil

    And when is SF going to break the bad news to their core support that not all of them will be entitled to their ‘entitlements’ in a united Ireland.

    You’re right there, they’d get more. Plus they wouldn’t have the party in government demonising them for being unemployed/disabled etc. Lower corporation tax, more private sector jobs. Plus as is regularly brought up on these threads every penny NI spends in corporations who file tax in London or further afield is not considered in our financial viability, those Irish pounds sterling get counted as profit for the city (if not the Caymans). This is why I think the shinners could get some accountants on the case and nail down what they’re talking about. Thus lowering the likelihood of getting spanked by Arlene.

    I agree with JR that SF are almost an irrelevance once/if a border poll gets called. Even more so if a UI were to come about. Unionists could align with FF/FG and spell real trouble for the Shinners in a UI.

  • JR

    Blue hammer,

    Sorry but the Irish border is unlike any other border in Europe. There is no-where in France for example where you need to take a boat or a plane to get to 95% of the country but from the same place you could drive to spain, Germany, Italy etc. Also Tax is the same across the uk. If I had a busniss on teh scottish or welsh borders I would only need one accountant , lawyer professional body, no roaming, not the same at all.

    I don’t see too many ni MP’s getting off the back bench. When was the last vote on anything any of them proposed?

    “By voting in a UK general election. Not a referendum. SF got around 7%, let’s be generous and say 8% of the popular vote in the 1918 election.”

    I couldn’t have made a finer point to proves my point on repersentation at Westminster.

  • tacapall

    Old Mortality are you saying the northern state was financially sustainable on its own before direct rule and that “subvention” from Britain was never needed ?

    Ah freeze public sector pay and benefit payments that will sort the problem out, but in reality that is the problem as this part of Ireland totally relies on the spending power of the public sector and the benefit payments, a never ending circle of economical juggling will not make everything in the garden rosy, but what it will do is encourage stagnation and the culture of reliance on the state, the way its meant to be.

  • Old Mortality

    Neil
    ‘You’re right there, they’d get more.’
    Maybe, but not all of them. Unless there are far fewer of them, there’ll be no united Ireland. Irish taxpayers will make sure of that.

  • BluesJazz

    “Sorry but the Irish border is unlike any other border in Europe”

    Have you ever been to Gibraltar?

  • Drumlins Rock

    JR, Kaliningrad?

  • otto

    “our debt would go with us into a united Ireland”

    Our debt or our deficit?

    It’s the UK corporately that’s liable for national debt. If it was carried personally you’d take it with you when you emigrated. And you don’t.

    Fag packet time;

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/bns/bn43.pdf

    Identifiable public spending per capita for NI is £10,003.

    A £10Bn gap is £5,555 per capita (population 1.8M).

    So 55% of our spend per capita is subvention? Really? We contribute just 45% of what we really cost? Are we less than half as useful as the UK average?*

    ROI GDP per head is still 10% more than the UK. So we’re be even less than 45% as active/affluent as the southerner?

    How is this argument selling the union? If we’re going to be twice as rich by getting rid of the border we’d better get on with it!

    *Obviously income distribution could be different between the UK average and NI and the rich pay more so we could be more than 45% as busy/wealthy as the UK average and still pay just 45% of the tax as we’ve less rich people. But still?!

    I’m with Gerry on this. Give us some honest numbers and then we can have a sensible conversation.

  • JR

    Bj,

    I actually have been to gibraltar and I don’t rebember being able to drive anywhere from there.

    Kalilingrad is a strategic Territory of Russia who’s entire population was removed in 1945 it is. I have actually stood on It’s border is not like south armagh.

  • Barnshee

    “This is why I think the shinners could get some accountants on the case and nail down what they’re talking about. ”

    The sooner the better

    PS Valued added tax payments in NI are almostly entirely negated by VAT refunds to “zero rated ” business in NI

    “the problem as this part of Ireland totally relies on the spending power of the public sector and the benefit payments,”

    In a nutshell— excellent

  • Old Mortality

    Tacapall
    What I’m saying is that, prior to 1972, the subvention was comparatively small and was, in large measure, due to public expenditure that was imposed from Westminster, such as the NHS and social security which the NI government would not necessarily have chosen to adopt. The ’50 years of unionist misrule’ did not include profligate public spending.
    Any reduction in the real cost of the public sector is bound to reduce the subvention and if it is achieved through a pay freeze has the added advantage of making private sector employment more attractive.
    As I’ve already pointed out, any genuine nationalist should be encouraging the goal of fewer people depending on the state for a living. However, nationalist politicians haven’t got the courage to tell people that a united Ireland won’t be achieved without pain.

  • ForkHandles

    JR, if you live a mile from the border and you really want to be part of the ROI, why dont you just move house? It would be so easy for you to do and think how happy you would be :)

  • otto

    Pg 35 on the link above btw.

    Per capita expenditure here £10,003.

    UK average £8,219.

    We get 21% more than the average UK citizen spent here. The hand out part – social protection – is 20% more than the UK average so we can assume that the employed bits are too.

    So if on average 5 people are employed delivering these services (mainly health, education, transport and public order) in other parts of the UK 6 people are here.

    And these figures don’t count the hundreds of thousands of people working in the national civil service departments or the fact that the whole of the Air Force, the Royal Navy and most Army Brigades (we have half of one brigade) are based in GB.

    We have 20% more employment than the UK average in the departments we do have and no employment in the departments we don’t have.

    Hardly “totally reliant”. More like pretty average.

  • Viridiplantae

    JR

    As a business owner near the border competing sets of industrial regulations mean it is easier for me do busniss with people on the isle of White or shetland Islands than a mile down the road. I pay two professional bodies, I pay higher insurance, I submit two sets of tax returns doubling by administration costs. I have a soliciter in Newry and one in Dundalk increasing my legal fees. I often pay £10 for 2 min phone calls because my northern no is on roaming even though I was still in the north. and their southern mobiles are on roaming too. These are real issues.

    They may be real issues but moving all that from the present border to a new border at the Irish Sea will cause another set of real issues for other people than yourself. There are other Northern Irish business owners for whom placing those barriers you speak of between them and a potential customer / supplier base of sixty million people with the consolation of easing trade to a market with four million potential customers / suppliers will mean the difference between success or insolvency.

    If I manufacture small objects and most of my customers are in GB I may not wish to start pricing in euros or assuming currency risk, and when I hand them to Royal Mail or DHL it won’t matter to me whether my customer is in Dundalk, the Shetland Islands or the Isle of Wight.

    As others have pointed out, if this border difficulty thing is the bee all and end all of the argument then the conclusion of the argument would actually be to re-unite the Republic with the UK. If a border is a problem then still having it but shifting it to a different place might be a bit more geographically congenial for some types of business where a water barrier is relevant but it still leaves the same essential problem. You’ll make some people’s lives easier and some people’s lives more difficult.

  • David Crookes

    Which is the worse lie: “I was never in the IRA.”, or “I understand economics.”?

  • JR

    Fork Handles,

    Where did I say I want to live in the ROI? I would face the same list of issues I outlined above just on the other side of the same border.

    Also My Children are at least the 8th Generation of my family living in my house.

  • Cric

    There are few private sector jobs in Northern Ireland because it is much cheaper to do business across the border. I hold a directorship in the Republic of Ireland and a directorship on the Isle of Man yet my family home is in Newtownabbey. The difference between NI and the ROI and IOM is that the two later territories is that their governments have independent fiscal control.

  • JR

    There is a stark differance between the economice productivity of the North and the south. The Gross Value addded per capita is a measure of the value of goods and services produced per person in a given area in a year.

    Southern Ireland GVA = €35,725 per year
    Northern Ireland GVA = €19,603 per year

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Northern_Ireland

    The question has to be asked, why can the average person living south of the Irish border produce over €15,000 worth of goods and services in a year than their northern counterparts? And why do they expect others to pick up the shortfall in paying for the services they expect.

    No wonder the spongers of europe don’t want a border poll.

  • Professor Yattle

    JR, the tone of your posts has been getting nastier and nastier and now you appear to be saying NI’s lower GVA is due to the presence of lazy unionists…
    The south’s higher GVA is substantially due to the flow of offshore profits being declared through Dublin. This in my view is an entirely legitimate economic policy for the south to pursue, but it doesn’t represent people in the south ‘adding value’ by their labour, and it would be described by those on the left as as beggar-thy-neighbour low tax policy.
    Unless SF is planning to run a low-tax all-island regime, which they say they are not, then north-south GVA figures in a united Ireland would snap promptly into line – downwards.

  • ForkHandles

    JR, i must have misunderstood. I thought you wanted to be part of the ROI. Easiest thing to do if you are right beside it would be to move house a bit, mission accomplished!. Its quite easy to do, i did it in the 90s moving to Dublin. I would suggest you change your tricolour logo to a union flag logo if you prefer to stay in the UK :)

  • JR

    Professor,

    I apologise if my tone is getting nastier. I don’t mean it to be. I am not saying Unionists are lazy either, 9 to 5 in the north is the same as 9 to 5 in the south. The subject is however one I feel very passionately about.

    I also feel that the full potential for a Ui and the possible Drawbacks of leaving the UK should be fully explored, not by only by armchair experts like me or others on here, or by like Gerry adams or arlene foster but by experts who are independant and trustworthy.

  • David Crookes

    Good-oh, JR. If SF was serious about a UI,, it would pay a group of disinterested non-postcolonial-obsessive international economists to cost several forms of UI project.

    And if the unionist parties were really confident about ‘centuries to come’, they would offer to pay half of the bill.

    All we’re getting at the minute is voluble tone-deaf people telling us what the difference is between A sharp and B flat.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    I thought the shinners and republicans idyll was to get the British to leave. Do they now want the to leave but leave the cheque book behind???

    Maskey on Wednesday nights Nolan show refused to answer a simple question on the health service?

    The best he could come up with was they would pick the best of both?? Does that mean in their vision of a new republic of Ireland the north of the country those in Northern Ireland, they would have the republican version of the NHS, and the rest would have the Irish paying version???

    Even Nolan was at a loss because he admitted he couldn’t get a straight answer from the shinners. To which Maskey said you are asking the wrong question???

    I don’t think so Alex, I think you will find that is exactly the type of question people will want a straight answer too.

    When your a shinner and you like to drive the agenda, being asked difficult to answer straight questions on an UI is going to be the norm. So the shinners and republicans need to get their head around the fact that if they want a debate on a UI they need to give straight answers. If not to persuade non republicans and nationalists but to give their own electorate the hard facts of unification.

    You would have thought that if the shinners wanted a debate on UI they would come with some proposals to kick the debate off on how they see the future. But what we got from the shinners on Wednesday was more confusion, but did we expect anything else??? I know I didn’t.

  • Rory Carr

    I understand that, in the Irish News today, Gerry Adams has now responded to Newton Emerson’s article and that Emerson has indicated he will further repsond to Adams’s points in due course.

    I trust that, having opened this discussion to its readers, Slugger will now keep us updated to that which readers are prevented from reading behind a pay wall.

  • mr x

    I can’t imagine the 22 new school buildings allegedly on the way would survive in a UI. Neither would a large number of maintained schools. Nor would many Irish – medium schools. Probably half to three quarters of the school board staff would go , especially anyone to do with ‘special education needs’ which is a concept of nil use outside the UK. Of course there would be strong support for a Northern-based party rather like Die Linken
    in Germany.

  • David Crookes

    When the New Ireland comes it’ll give us all a chance to start again in certain departments.

    Take education. A whole industry based on so-called special educational needs is sucking up more and more money with every passing year. Ten per cent of the pupils at a reputable NI grammar school have been “identified” as having special educational needs.

    Even in primary schools many children are being taight by classroom assistants on a one-to-one basis. The public can’t afford that sort of nonsense any more.

    Another thing which will have to go is the system of hell-pit schools in which pupils defy their teachers and learn nothing. The mentally and morally crippled “inspectorate” helps to maintain this system.

    Educational “academics” and “advisers” create vacuous jargon, invent theoretical constructs, and increase the workload of teachers needlessly.

    Syllabuses are changed continually, consultation nights proliferate, meetings multiply, and teachers are abused with imbecile “training” on days when their pupils must be kept at home.

    At his worst a school principal tries to please his civil service masters by churning out paper and burning out his staff.

    Weak-minded and incompetent parents indulge themselves and torment teachers by making as much trouble as possible.

    Teachers themselves promote their own impotence by obediently joining a completely useless Teaching Council, and by refusing to have a single trade union.

    A corrupt relationship often exists between the purchasers and the suppliers of educational materials which are ludicrously overpriced.

    When a New Ireland is born, the various tapeworms of education must be liquidated.

  • Mick Fealty

    Rory,

    We shall do our best. Ill have a look behind the paywall, and Will report appropriately, if it merits such.

  • Jagdip

    Slightly off-topic, but Arlene’s DETI this week produced the first NI GDP index which shows that the NI economy is down a startling 11% from peak, compared to 3% in the UK generally and 7% in the Republic. The measure of the economy is real GDP.

    How on earth has NI with a Peace Process and decades of catching up to do, screw its economy up so much since 2007?

    http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/index/media-centre/news-departments/news-deti/news-deti-310113-official-statistics-press.htm

  • Alias

    “How on earth has NI with a Peace Process and decades of catching up to do, screw its economy up so much since 2007?”

    By the elecorate being led to believe that a bunch of sectarian rabble-rousers were qualified to manage the affairs of government and commerce?

    The private sector in NI is down 14.9% from its peak, so folks are lucky that the British state keeps pumping money into public sector to soften the landing.