Spare me £10 billion guv’nor

Bairbre de Brun has re-emerged to front Sinn Fein’s new demand, a £10 billion peace package.

The abortive Comprehensive Agreement had included a special package on the detested water charges but Sinn Fein now want any cash injection to go on All-Ireland strategies particularly in the “border corridor”. The package is to come from the government and the Irish government. How much each pays is unclear as is how they arrived at the figure of £10 billion (do I hear £11 bn anyone?) but Sinn Fein believe it can be found from security savings.

Is the answer to a massive over dependency on public expenditure in Northern Ireland really to increase it over the next ten years? With frustration about police responsiveness already growing are cuts in the police budget a credible option? How much are Republic of Ireland taxpayers expected to pick up? Is Sinn Fein unaware of the UK budget crunch over the next five years? As Bairbre de Brun has been brought back from her Brussels exile to front the proposal, is it a sign it need not be taken too seriously? With newspaper claims that Sinn Fein is trying to control job allocations in the community sector is this to keep border republicans sweet? Will Sinn Fein use any RoI rejection as an electoral ploy in the southern border counties?

As they say on the West Wing, “A billion here. A billlion there. Soon it starts to add up to real money”.

  • elfinto

    If the all-island economy is to become a reality massive investment is required in cross-border infrastructure – the road and rail network in particular. £10 billion might just do it.

  • godsdog

    “With newspaper claims that Sinn Fein is trying to control job allocations in the community sector”

    Fair Deal, more unfounded allegations ,do you care to name names, identify the paper or the sources?
    This caveat has ruined the thrust of an otherwise rational thread

  • smcgiff

    ‘£10 billion might just do it.’

    It might. So might £9b or £11b. I hope there’s a detailed proposal to back up the neat round number of £10 billion.

  • fair_deal

    elfinto

    There is sparse detail but infrastructure isn’t specifically mentioned.

    godsdog

    Last Sunday’s edition of the Sunday World, as I have my concerns over that as the source it is why I categorised it as “claims”.

  • slug

    Just because something is cross-border is not a justification in and of itself – all investments should be determined on net present value (NPV). The railway investment would have to be assessed compared to investment on the lines and rolling stock to Derry. In particular there is a bottleneck at the Dargan Bridge which carries northbound rail traffic from Belfast Central which I think ought to be a priority, as well as more frequent services and rolling stock.

  • Glen Taisie

    “Bairbre de Brun has re-emerged” sounds Thatcher
    like – but the again.

    .

  • elfinto

    fair-deal,

    A quick drive across the border will alert you to the poor state of cross-border links.

    Major investment is required in the following places to mention but a few:

    Belfast-Dublin (Newry and around)
    Armagh-Monaghan
    Eniskillen-Sligo

    The only decent rail-link is Belfast – Dublin.
    Within NI the Derry -Belfast route needs up graded urgently and there must be a case for restoring a Derry to Dublin rail link.

    Then there’s air:
    Surely there is money in a route from Belfast to Shannon, Cork or Galway. Maybe less stringent airport taxes on these routes would make them economically viable

    I’m not sure what Sinn Fein are proposing but surely it must cover the above. These things should be on everyone’s agenda as they are so blindingly obvious.

    BTW did they ever sort out the mobile phone roaming charges or the RTE/TG4 transmission issues? A complete joke!

  • slug

    “Within NI the Derry -Belfast route needs up graded urgently”

    This is true. The Dargan Bridge, built in 1994 across the lagan, was short-sightedly built as a single-track bridge. It is now a major bottleneck and needs to be upgraded to double-track.

    The line from Jordanstown to Ballymena needs to be upgraded from single to double track and a spur put to the International Airport. Also the City (George Best) Airport should have an integrated station.

    The single track from Ballymena to Londonderry needs to be upgraded to improve speed.

    These changes would permit half-hourly journeys to Ballymena and hourly to Coleraine and Londonderry but more rolling stock would have to be bought.

    The East Belfast line, from Central Station to Comber, should be reactivated to ease congestion, as a light railway.

  • Yokel

    Here we go again…asking for money..ohh we are so poor!!!! Oh peace needs this cash!!!….lets get a few things clear regarding this and a few of the posts above.

    1. If there is money in the airlinks between sad arports as posted then someone would be running them now probably with support from the air route development fund as was.

    2. Not to put too fine a point on it, the border corridor is never going to be a powerhouse, its location, largely rural setting its not going to happen. By and large major industry will go to Dublin or Belfast area or as close to, such as the run up the motorway to and from Lisburn/Portadown direction. In short why pump money into the area? That whole border corridor is a politically based wishlist and nothing to do with economic development

    3. Why should we deserve it? Why should the British government pump in money to some god forsaken place where the are hated anyway when they can put it into old industrial areas in the UK? Why should the Irish government care either as most trade is within the Republic thus the improvments in communications should be on their side of the border not fr a new 4 lane byass fr Newtownhamilton

    4. Someone show me how it makes economic sense. £10 billion sterling invested should see an output in excess of that. Sorry children the economic/trade benefits will not equate to 10billion worth especally when we are looking at the Armagh/Monaghan and Fermanagh Sligo & Derry Donegal. If Sinn Fein have done their economic justification lets be having it.

    Lovely people as I’m sure you all are, stop asking for handouts if you can’t actually show the return and no peace doesnt count as a return. Im tried of it being used as a stick to wave around by the politicians here between peace funding and confidence building measures, how about generating some wealth yerselves rather than asking for someone elses, in the case the Republic’s and the UK’s..and tothink Belfast was one of the cities of the industrial revolution….where were the handouts then eh.

  • Yokel

    Please note my crap spelling doesn’t reflect on our education system which of course is very good..honest.

  • Stephen Copeland

    elfinto,

    … BTW did they ever sort out the mobile phone roaming charges

    Um … EC to force cancellation of roaming charges:

    The European Commission has announced plans to force mobile phone companies to cancel extra charges for making calls when elsewhere in the EU.

    A survey of so-called roaming charges shows little reduction in prices – and even some increases – despite European Commission warnings.

    The EU telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding, said her plans would go out to consultation with the mobile phone industry during April, with final proposals for legislation expected in June.

  • godsdog

    Thanks fair deal, although i think you would have done better to leave such nonsense out as it did not contribute to the thread,
    I hope SF have not just plucked this figure out of thin air, in my humble opinion 10 Billion is not much of a peace dividend especially if the 26 counties are expected to fork out some of it. I think the British owe this place a lot more than that!!!

  • pete

    £10 billion pounds – to subsidise an air route from Belfast to Shannon? Why, with such generous public subsidy, every passenger could avail of their own private plane. Whilst true that airport taxes in Shannon are unreasonably high (at €0), we shouldn’t limit ourselves to such unimaginative infrastructure improvements. How about the much needed Maglev rail link from Bundoran to Rockall?

    Does Sinn Fein not have even the slightest notion about how this “free market” thing works? Their solution to our massively bloated public sector dependent economy, where we all receive about £4,000 a year from the exchequer, is for more subsidies?

    Ourselves alone, indeed.

  • Stephen Copeland

    I think the word ‘dividend’ is an unfortunate misunderstanding. They meant to say ‘reparations’.

  • Yokel

    What are the RoI government paying reparations for then? Nice little attempt at mischief thee Stephen but it don’t fly. Send that post to the DUP and sure Ian Paisley Jnr or Scrappy Doo as I call him (unfunny to watch, not half as popular as the original and just a bad idea)will no doubt spew phelgm in replying, should make yer day.

    There we go though..nice to see that all thsi talk of pressure on cross border tariffs isnt really some great North-South project step…its really being led by Brussels….i cant wait to see who tries to claim credit here for it….

    The British government should let the North float and dump most of its subsidy…no more of that quality council housing up in Belfast lads….watch ya all whinge then.

    Still waiting for the economic justification from someone for this 10 billion…well come on, its all a good thing so you all (well most of you)say prove to me its money well spent and there is a proportionate output? What are you saying is its great to be a charity case isn’t it really.

    Is there a local party whos economic policy is anything other than government money?

  • Shore Road Resident

    Can’t the richest political party in Ireland help out with some cash here?
    And if it’s ‘reparations’ you’re after, well – two sides can easily play at that game.

  • Pete Baker
  • nutjack

    can’t Slab Murphy help with the money? he is a ‘good republican’ after all.

  • Yokel

    Those Shinners, they go in demanding 10 and come out with 16…all in the space of 90 minutes..oh Unionists how can you possibly compete with their genius…

    One problem with that news release from the NIO..stop pumping money into disadvantaged children and other people, governments have tried it for decades..it doesn’t work, they are at the bottom for a reason, their areas are often tips for a reason, more crime happens in those areas for a reason; its called the people that live there. Those who want to get out will with the opportunities and support available. Anyone I’ve met who was determined to get out of a ‘bad’ area or make their area better did it. They arent rich or coming down with degrees, they had the will to improve their lives thats all. Those who don’t have it won’t so why give them resources when all they do is ask for more…

  • Pete Baker

    Yokel

    you appear to have the chronology of those various announcements/demands wrong..

    just saying..

  • IJP

    Pathetic populism.

    ‘Please Sir, can I have some more?’…

    It’s time Oliver grew up.

    If we want £10 bn, let’s create the wealth to fund it ourselves and quite mopeing.

  • Yokel

    Pete

    T’was deliberately, trying to be a clever dick..I won’t give up the day job though..

  • smcgiff

    ‘all investments should be determined on net present value (NPV).’

    NPV is sooo last year – Adjusted Present Value (APV) is your only man! 😉

  • Jo

    The investment is conditional on the introduction of water charges and the hiking of rates.

    Politicians should be insisting that the revenue from the sale of Mahon Rd etc is channelled directly int NI and NOT used to pay for IRAQ.

  • pakman

    There is an air link from Belfast City to Cork (very good it is too) by Aer Aaran. Pity about the lack of rail link to the City Airport though.

  • Brian Boru

    SF are wrong on this. Excessive subsidy will only delay a United Ireland – and existing evidence – NI income per head $13,400 – Republic’s $34,000 (source wikipedia.com) – does not exactly back up the thesis that throwing money from the coffers of a state benefits an economy substantially. Statism doesn’t work. FDR tried it in the US and unemployment only fell when WW2 came along and the boost it gave to the arms industry.

    Instead of increasing subsidies, the British govt should gradually cut the subsidies, starting with the overweaning bureaucracy of having 26 district councils (almost as many as our county councils down here), and then moving on to the health-trusts, library boards etc. A more peaceful Six Counties should not have to have the State spoonfeeding people with subsidy. Instead, concentrate on trying to attract multinationals and on encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship which used to exist before statism in the 50’s and especially the 60’s onwards began its encroachment into the northern economy, stifling the incentive for individuals to set up their own businesses and compete in the global marketplace. Multinationals account for 51% of the Republic’s exports and 95% of what we produce is exported.

    I do not pretend nor should others, that the Six Counties can ever hope to catch up with us while remaining in the UK. But a restored Assembly would allow some improvements to be made.

  • lamh dearg

    Bairbre who?

  • elfinto

    Glad to hear about that air link to Cork. Very useful indeed as Cork is at least a 6 hour drive.
    Maybe Galway next. 3/4 years ago I would have been a regular customer of such a service.

    So there is talk of stopping the roaming charges but how long will it take to implement? There was talk for years of rebroadcasting RTE/TG4 from Black Mountain. RTE did eventually make it onto NTL (how seditious) but the Irish language channel was still unavailable in Belfast unless you had a big Rod Hull style aerial on your roof. I’m not a Gaelgeoir myself (although I did like the Hector travel show) but the unavailability of TG4 was symptomatic of officialdom in North circa 2002 when I decided to get out of the place.

    On the one hand I tend to agree with those who say wean Norn Iron off the subsidies and make it fend for itself but on the other, I realise that the border region has been neglected and overlooked for the last 85 years and needs a massive cash injection to rebuild its infrastructure and make the all-Ireland economy a reality.

  • Alan

    “RTE did eventually make it onto NTL”

    But we are discriminated against all the same!

    We can’t join our cousins in the Republic to watch the European football because NTL suddenly blanks the screen. I assume this has something to do with SKY, but it does feel like we miss out.

  • irish aussie

    If you want to build a modern market economy then investment in transport and telecommucations infastructure is critical and that is what this is investment, its not a subsidy.It is a vital core function of Govt to invest in or facilitate these type of developments, to equate this to some pen pushing non-job is absurd.The economic multiplyer effect of roads in Australia is generally 5 to 1 which means that every dollar spent returns five directly to the economy, it would probably be higher in NI because of the shorter distance’s involved.This is in fact good policy and oddly enough its come from Sinn Fein, do any of the parties there have any economic policys?

  • Crataegus

    Slug

    Don’t forget the Larne line from Whitehead.

    Also thought needs to be given to transport down the west coast. Cork, Galway, Sligo — Derry?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Indeed – and some of the infrastructure for the Western rail line is still there.

    http://www.westontrack.com

  • Crataegus

    IJP

    If we want £10 bn, let’s create the wealth to fund it ourselves and quite mopeing.

    I am inclined to agree and would like to see attention given to what is necessary to make this place competitive with the emphasis on creating an outward looking, competitive, dynamic business sector and on wealth creation.

    However there are a few areas of public expenditure that I feel are necessary due to 30 years of underinvestment and are if you like jointly inherited liabilities. They are the Water Service infra structure and many of the items listed by slug relating to the rail network. Airports without rail links is something I just can’t get my mind around especially when the railways are running in close proximity.

    On the down side we also need to address the administration of NI to reduce the size the state sector and remove all sorts of anomalies where state sponsored activity is in direct competition with private business.

    Also someone needs to take control of general planning policy and start to set some clear overall objectives for Development Plan. For a start we need to rezone more land around many of our towns and villages for if we don’t there is a serious housing shortage looming. But what is the overall development plan for NI????

    My perception of NI economy is that it is becoming increasingly buoyant and the high levels of immigration from central Europe would appear to confirm that belief. Reduction in the state sector if it were to happen now may not be as painful as many fear.

  • Yokel

    Irish Aussie: You’ve misread the plan as set out by Sinn Fein (and probably any other political party as they are all the same on this issue).

    Secondly your experience is based upon input/output based on providing the supporting infrastrcucture for developing an economy.

    It, sadly, won’t apply to the Sinn Fein proposition because

    1. This plan is actually less about creating economic strength than a political point.

    2. There is no proposed calculation of return, always a worry..again political issues are the rasison d’etre of this proposal by Sinn Fein, the great all Ireland project, not actual economic wealth and return.

    That in a nutshell is the issue, no one asks for money for a sound economc reaon. Look at the loyalist riots for cash situation last year. Confidence measures actually can be done without millions being pumped into anywhere, no one has actually said what all this cash injection is for and no-one shows or even tries to show just how this money gets an output.

    Brian Boru, you raise a point, indirectly, that can’t be denied, the subsidy than the Republic would need to put into the North in the absence of the British would be potentially crippling and it will likely be perpetual, as the problem up here isnt infrastructure, it isnt opportunity, its attitude and UI or anything else isn’t going to change that.

    You’ve also indirectly pointed out Ireland’s achilles heel..the heavy dependence on multi nationals, great now, but a major problem potentially. There needs to be a strong enough domestic export capability and a domestic market to take a big hit when multinationals do their multinational thing and that isn’t there now and realistically wont be though certainly moves can be made to prepare a cushion for it.

  • elfinto

    ‘This plan is actually less about creating economic strength than a political point.’

    The border area was neglected for 85 years for political reasons.

    Both governments have spoken of the importance of developing an all-island economy. For this rhetoric to become reality money must be invested in developing infrastructure in border regions and in obstacles to cross border trade must be removed.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Tochais Siorai,

    … some of the infrastructure for the Western rail line is still there.

    In fact, it is all still there. The problem is, it is a single-line track, with numerous crossings and crumbling bridges. It was built in a different era, when crossing-keepers were cheap and would work 24/7 in return for a tiny house, when traffic was light and infrequent, and when land was not astronomically expensive. Restoring it now would cost far more than its economic value.

    My preference is for the whole line, from Enniskillen to Galway, to be converted into a long-distance walking/cycling path. It is relatively flat, avoids the worst towns and main roads, and is very peaceful and pleasant. It could be connected to other similar rail-beds or walking paths to create a wonderful tourist amenity.

  • Yokel

    Elfinto

    You miss my point, the only thing needed in the broder regions to help stimulate trade on an Ireland basis would be a series of big roads going through it straight to/from the Dublin/Cork/Galway & Belfast/Craigavon/Antrim/Down corridors…the border areas will always be economically on a lower scale, largely rural. The decisons on where the vast majority of business locates and centres where trade is done has long been decided.

    What Siin Fein are talking about is not merely infrastructure but some kind of engineering to stimulate trade and business in the border counties and thats more than a what is actually required to get a much bigger effect, which is big roads. The Irish government has had plenty of Europan money to spend on these areas for infrastructure but sensibly put the moneylargely int the routes between the trading centres. Thus the die has been cast long ago and teh return would be better if the money went into further improving infrastructure between and around the trading centres.

  • elfinto

    Yokel,

    You have unwittingly made my point for me. Business is not going to locate in places without infrastructure. And if governments don’t plan to develop infrastructure then business is not going to relocate there.

    It has been shown in recent years in RoI that business will choose to locate to places like Cork, Limerick and Galway if the infrastructure is in place. However RoI is still too Dublin-centric – to the detriment of quality of life in that city. It is only by planning and developing infrastructure on a systematic and equitable basis that wealth will spread. That is why things such as integrated transport policies, the Western rail corridor and North-South links are important.

  • Crataegus

    Stephen

    What we need is some coherent strategy for the west coast to help offset potential over development on the East. We should be looking 50 -60 years ahead and potentially expensive oil. Also trains are important for tourism but surely a case could be made for some of the lines around Galway being used for commuters? The economics of railways is not my field, but I have often wondered why we treat investment in roads differently? A road is a must a railway or tramway an after thought.

    I must confess I find the idea of idyllic cycleways somewhat attractive. The sort of thing one dreams of but never does.

  • Yokel

    Elfinto

    With the best will in the world, business will still locate around major conurbations and the existing transport links, the rural border counties, no matter what they put in there short of a zero tax rate for the peoples republic of Monaghan or whatever will still only get a fraction of insudtry building up comared to elsewhere. There are two major reasons why this is so.

    1. Businesspeople make decsions on habit and following everyone else too, everyone else is in a number of established areas so will they be.

    2. If you try via legislation to actually force businesses to say locate outside of Dublin via planning restrictions or artifically high rates or whatever, they just wont do it, they’ll end up loating out of the country first.

    Many Dublin based businessmen I know do complain about traffic etc but when it comes to the possibility of moving, theyd move out a bit or maybe to another conurbation but not up to Monaghan.

    On a final point. As we know the IDA and Invest NI have offered extensive subsidy to try to get inward investment into certain locations of apparent greater social & employment need but most businesses will chalk this up as an extra benefit, it can’t be engineered to the extent that I feel some people are suggesting. You can build the roads but most business will simply pass through them, not locate there unless A) there is an overwhelming economic imperative which just won’t happen due to the need to maintain a reasonable equalty across the country (having Monaghan business upset is less critical than Dublin business upset) and b) senior management want to live/commute there also. The fact that it doesn’t happen is not purely infrastructure both physical and electronic,its more than that

  • kensei

    “FDR tried it in the US and unemployment only fell when WW2 came along and the boost it gave to the arms industry.”

    Congratulaions! You win the Biggest Sweeping Statement of the day. That particular proposition could be debated for hours.

  • kensei

    “Many Dublin based businessmen I know do complain about traffic etc but when it comes to the possibility of moving, theyd move out a bit or maybe to another conurbation but not up to Monaghan. ”

    For the right incentives they’ll move, particularly in a world with easy communications.

    Look at the growth of the American South in the last decade or so. The prospect of the right combination of skills, tax incentives and lower wages would see development in those places, but it would take smart long term planning to achieve those things.

  • Crataegus

    Yokel

    Business will tend to concentrate where the population centres are and where money and labour are located. Large population centres are their own generators. But what is now can change but changes in the built environment tend to be slow and need to be planned decades ahead. Yes you need good services and a package of measures but change can happen. A new University in Fermanagh could work and you could build a knowledge based economy around such centres. Fermanagh is a very attractive place to live and work for companies who are not trading and selling bulk goods.

    The alternative is you accept that Belfast and Dublin are the economic axis and get on with it and perhaps plan for a linear city down the East coast with good transport links within that zone and regard the rest of the country as basically recreational and agricultural. Vision of hell or paradise, not sure which?

    But similarly you could decide to develop from Belfast to Dungannon. Cragaivon didn’t work and needs to be revisited but somewhere in the near future we in NI have some very unpleasant planning decisions to make in order to ensure there will not be a shortage of housing. We need clear direction.

    What could move to Rural areas is the bulk of the civil service and the Assembly and by so doing increase the rural population, economy and local demand and hence increase spin off business.

    Come to think of it there is no reason why the Assembly could not be located in a cow shed in Aughnacloy.