Sinn Fein: Euro should be NI currency…

Sinn Fein is on to something when it calls for the Euro to be introduced on an island wide basis. The two currency situation is certainly a major block to the economic unification of the island of the kind Peter Hain has called for. But short of political unification, it’s unlikely to happen until the people of Britain decide to go down that route.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Carlos

    Even the shops here that say they accept euros don’t take

    The Euro’s a failed currency and I don’t know if adopting its worthwhile just to upset orange B#g#ts

  • Carlos

    I meant to say don’t take small coins in the post above

  • Brian Boru

    Carlos, if the Euro is a “failed currency” why do Ireland, Austria and Luxembourg have only 4-5% unemployment? I presume you are following the traditional Eurosceptic argument linking high unemployment in most of the Eurozone to the Euro itself. This is a false argument because these countries have had high unemployment for decades, primarily due to high taxes, overgenerous unemployment benefits, and rigid labour laws. Nothing to do with the Euro.

    In fact, if anything without the Euro the situation would be far worse. Euroland has lower interest rates than the UK. It has eliminated exchange rates between the 12 members, and this gives greater stability for exporters who no longer have to fear losing orders due to the Deutschmark falling against the franc etc. 6 months before we joined the Euro, we had interest rates of 10%, which were cut to 2% by the time EMU commenced in 1999. Are you seriously arguing that France and Germany need higher interest rates?

    I agree that we should have the Euro on an All-Ireland basis to help facilitate exports and cross-border trade but I doubt it’s going to happen without the UK joining, and given traditionally hostile attitudes to the EU in the UK, I can only see this happening if a government goes into the Euro without a referendum, which is probably political-suicide in Britain.

    Oh well. 🙁

  • Brian Boru

    However, I have to say that SF’s call is a bit ironic consider Gerry’s comments in an interview a few months back where I think he suggested leaving the Euro in the future. I find their reasoning a bit confused. Are they saying the North should join the Euro to bring reunification closer (which I doubt it would really do other than economically), only to leave it afterwards? Bizarre.

  • George

    while I still have worries about the long-term durability of the euro as it has never been tried before to united countries by currency before politically, the adventurer in me is willing to give it a go.

    The eurozone economy is now growing at a faster rate than the UK one so it must be doing something right.

    We will know who is right on the euro in time. If the Russians decide to accept euros for their oil, we could be on to a real winner.

    As for NI, it is pie in the sky to think it will take the euro while the rest of the UK is in sterling.

  • missfitz

    Perhaps its worth going back to Alan Ruddocks article in last weeks ST to review his very cogent arguments vis a vis the all island economy and the high improbability of the euro being introduced.

    If anyone is interested, I have a good piece by John Bradley who looks in great depth at the issues involved, and the potential benefits of a cohesive economy.

    I think the SF policy is a case of wishful thinking, and is probably not very helpful in real terms. The real issues facing the economy in NI centre around a failure to see beyond traditional industrial base and the level of subsistence we require to exist. These are the issues that need to be addressed in the context of the real world, and the real chancellor who is in charge

  • missfitz

    hope i do this right……,,2765-1975102,00.html

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    I’d be very interested in Bradley’ piece.

  • GavBelfast

    Fresh from her roaring success as Health Minister here, Ms De Bruin came up with this nonsense prior to being elected on the tribal headcount that was the 2004 EU Election.

    It was bizarre logic then – economic power is remote in London, so let’s transfer it to Brussels or Frankfurt – a meaningless appeal to the tribe which was and is undeliverable, and it’s as illogical now.

  • Keith M

    It’s hard to believe that British intelligence hasn’t further infiltrated SF/IRA when you see nonsense like this. The Provos campaigned against a single currency (and every other move on strengthening the EU). A few months ago Adams was suggesting that the Republic should leave the Euro zone and having its own currency again. Now they are calling for and “all Ireland” Euro and one currency in one part of the UK and a different one in another. At this rate it’s only a matter of time before they start talking about bringing back sterling for all the British Isles.

    I’d start checking the bank accounts of all the senior members of the party if I were SF/IRA, just to check if there had been some mysterious lodgements.

  • Bretagne

    Missfitz – could not agree more – euros, buttons or even old bullets – its the size of subvention, the oversized public sector thats the problem not the currency….

    Now if SF concentrate on what is going to make the all-island economy work – I suggest :

    1) pushing to introduce large tax credits and preferential pension position for those who live in the north and work in the south,
    2) reducing the numbers in the north not willing to work by reducing the numbers on disability allowance.
    3) driving tax relief for those who take a job
    elsewhere on the island and have to lodge..
    4) Tax benefits for employers in borders regions on both sides to offset higher costs of employing from the other side of the border.
    5) On the south driving to reduce the tax reliefs available to employ fron emerging EU countries (accomodation reliefs. At curent rates there will be more migrants in the republic econony by 2050 than the entire unionist popoulation in the north – policies are needed to drive employment flexibility north and allow northerners to share in the economic success in the south. On all island economy with
    jobs going to new entrant migrantworkers in the south, while non-migrant northerners sit on diaility allowance means the north falls further and further behind.

    6) Plan for a slimmed down civil service, and the loss (which I welcome) of the sticky plaster solution to employment that is the community sector here – most of which are funded for a couple of years and is reducing not driving labour force flexibility.

    While SF focus on the artificial symbols of convergence and fail to drive the economy which is naturally convergent, they compund their lack of credibility.

  • missfitz

    This is the particular piece by Bradley, written for the Bank of Valetta.

  • Are Sinn Fein not anti european anymore?

    And did Sinn Fein not once campaign to remove Ireland from the European Union, “Keep Ireland Free say No to the EEC” etc.

    They were against the Nice treaty.

    Are there now two Sinn Fein parties with separate european union policies on the island of Ireland?

  • Mickhall

    Missfitz – could not agree more – euros, buttons or even old bullets – its the size of subvention, the oversized public sector thats the problem not the currency….

    posted by Bretagne


  • IJP

    The call for the euro to be used in the North is not the main headline here, even if it does constitute a blatant U-turn.

    The rest of the document just shows and abject failure to understand basic economics or the Realpolitik (not that SF is the only organization to promote this daft notion that reduction of the North’s corporation tax while within the UK is remotely feasible).

    We also need to tackle the basic idea (again not unique to SF, but worrying that it should fall for it while pressuring for a place in government) that reducing tax rates necessarily equates to increasing overall tax intake. When it lowered tax rates, the Republic actually increased the tax intake. It is time we ended this simplistic nonsense that putting up taxes equates to more money for the government to spend – in a globalized economy, quite the contrary is often the case.

    Overall, SF is guilty of ignorance and populism with this simplistic garbage. It has proved yet again the real politics and responsible governance is simply beyond it. But again, this is not a trait unique to it among the North’s political parties.

  • missfitz

    I wonder if you can start to draw parallels between the policies and ideology that drove and formed the early governments in ROI following independence.

    I feel that the passion and ideas that drove the early revolutionaries did not ultimately translate into good governance. I see some links with the over simplification of economic ideas between both groups.

    The eraly economic policies were based on the notion of a self-sustaining protectionist state. It took 30 years of misery for the penny to drop that this was not a feasible management strategy.

    Is the present SF economic policy similarly driven by naieve notions of over simplistic models?

  • Mickhall

    What is often over looked with the raising of some tax thresholds, is it can play an important and positive role socially. For example the gap between the economically rich and poor is rising throughout the ROI and the UK. This can only have a destabilizing effect on society over all. Not only from the resentments that can build up at the bottom end economically, but also because the rich increasingly are behaving in an arrogant manner and flaunting their wealth. Believing it should give them more rights than the average citizen/subject. The very social cohesion of our societies is at stake here.

    For example they feel they have a right to buy second homes where-ever they wish. The only factor they believe they need to take into consideration is having enough cash to do so. Thus in large parts of the south and the more picturest area’s of the UK, local people have been priced out of the housing market in their home areas. The anger and friction this cause will only increase and it cannot be long before some people start emulating what happened some years back in north Wales and start to burn the homes of the incomers to the ground.

    Thus IMO it is imperative that second homes are heavily taxed, not as happens in some places all but subsidized. Now Im sure some advocate of neo-liberal economics will say these people will just go off and buy in Spain etc. Maybe but it will not be long before such areas throughout the EU will face something similar. Spain is already dealing with this problem in a much more harsh manner than increasing tax on these second homes. [if the paper work was not 100-percent perfect when the homes were originally built, Local authorities are demanding that they come down.

    Outside the EU, in Turkey for example, non Turkish second home buyers are likely to find their fingers burnt if Turkey enters the EU, as most of the areas where such homes are was prior to the Ataturk revolution Greek, with all this implies. So moving elsewhere is not much of an option in the long run. Just because someone is comparatively well off financially, should not mean they can ride rough-shod over their fellows, the more so when those who are getting it stuck up them make a sizable section of the islands population.

    If anyone doubt’s the corrosive effect of this gap between rich and poor and how it eats away at the very fabric of society, they need look no further than the fact few people see anything amiss with Britain’s no 1 soccer club being owned by a man who used fraud and criminality to amass his great wealth. What example does this send to our youngsters, as long as you don’t get caught or have the money to bribe your way out of trouble all bets are off.

    Regards to all

  • headbangor

    sorry to go off on a tangent…..but it is currency related.

    2 poles/russians in the Permanent Building Society, Terenure, Dublin C.1998 (late 90s anyway)

    “we have $us 500, why do we get less £punts”

    i almost cried for those poor wee lads.

    they where so earnest in their belief of the mighty dollar…… i just know they were expecting a whole wheelbarrow of local dosh.

  • IJP


    Much of what you write is spot on, but at the end of the day would you prefer the Republic of Ireland in 1985 or 2005? I know which I prefer.

    I’m not actually a strong supporter idealistically of any sort of tax regime – it depends, largely, on the type of society you’re governing. This again is where SF gets it wrong – it suggests Norway is an example of a country with high taxes and high living standards, but they forget the basic fact that Norway (a highly regulated and regimented society) just isn’t Ireland (an instinctively ‘laissez-faire’ one)!

    What I do support fundamentally is strong competition – that’s the corner stone of economic success. The problem with socialist-type models is they remove the rewards for risk takers, thus removing risk takers altogether, leading to state domination of key industries (and no competition). This in turn leads to poor service to the customer (and employee), corruption and collapse. But the problem with the reverse of Socialism, as you rightly point out, is that people can bribe their way to the top and then buy so many things out that this also eliminates competition (Chelsea’s success may, for example, be all well and good for now, but if it removes competition from the Premiership, people will lose interest and it will all fall in on itself).

    The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. You want competition, but to achieve that in the long term you need a degree of regulation, fairness for employees, and protection for consumers.

    The problem is, as my party knows, it’s blimmin’ difficult to be aggressively moderate! 🙂

    That’s my opinion, anyway…

  • Mickhall


    You make some good points, one of the problems in a democracy, when both of the major parties are much of a muchness as far as economic policy is concerned, is the pendulum you all but mentioned only swings one way. There was a time, say in the UK but also to a degree in the USA and elsewhere, when one party went to far in making concessions to Capital, the other party when elected would reverse that swing to Capital in the opposite direction in favor of organized Labour and the less well off economically.

    Today with all the major parties claiming to support neo-liberal economic policies this is not happening. Thus we get this ever widening gap between rich and poor economically. Which must in the long run lead to a break down of the cohesion of society.
    For some politicians and businessmen and women, it is as if the Marie Antoinette syndrome never occurred, and along with her the French and Russian Revolutions. Lets hope someone reminds them, before we end up going down those bloody lanes.

    All the best.

    Nothing wrong with being an aggressive moderate, we could do with a few more.