“more to do with their reluctance to take the hard economic decisions…”

As Andy said in his post yesterday

Many people were surprised when Sinn Féin did not take the influential Enterprise, Trade and Investment portfolio after last May’s election, even though it was theirs for the taking. I have heard it said that this absence of interest in the economy is partly due to a lack of confidence in economic matters: although the IRA prisoners who became Sinn Féin leaders were famous for their attention to their studies when they were in jail, few studied economics. However I think it is more to do with their reluctance to take the hard economic decisions that Northern Ireland policy-makers – in common with their counterparts everywhere in Europe – will be facing in the coming years. They prefer to remain the party of left-wing protest, albeit from within the governing structure of Northern Ireland.

One of those “hard economic decisions” facing the semi-detached polit-bureau concerns devolving the power to set the rate of corporation tax.  The Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, did, at least, turn up for the first meeting of the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Rebalancing the Economy on the 15 December.

But his party is noticeable by its absence from the list of respondents to the Treasury’s public consultation paper on the “options that could be taken to support rebalancing of the Northern Ireland economy, including  the issues involved in devolving the power to vary the corporation tax rate for profits in Northern Ireland.”  The consultation was open from 24 March to 8 July this year.  A summary of the responses, and the list of respondents, can be found here [pdf file].

Indeed, Sinn Féin were the only party in the Northern Ireland Assembly not to respond.  Even the Green Party managed to find something to say about it…

Perhaps an ideological corporation with an annual turnover of £1.2million has certain interests to protect…