Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty has said that Ireland would have a better economy if it united with the North and that many of the arguments against unification are based on misinformation.
The Donegal South-West TD told TheJournal.ie that while a border poll should not take place during the current Northern Assembly – which will run to 2016 – it should go ahead in the next term.
“The idea is and the belief is that there is a potential in an all-Ireland situation, with larger economies of scale, with a population of six-and-a-half million people, with all of the different transaction costs being eliminated, that you will actually have a better economy,” he claimed.
Doherty said the economic arguments against uniting Ireland are full of misinformation. He claims that Ireland would not automatically have to replace the €10 billion subvention that the Northern executive gets from central government in London.
“If you peel back the figures, and this is something that we’ve been doing for quite a period of time, the €10 billion is made up of €6 billion that you wouldn’t actually be spending in an all-Ireland economy,” he said.
“You wouldn’t be funding the British army, you wouldn’t be funding museums in Scotland and Wales, you wouldn’t be funding other areas that are simply to do with the British establishment.”
If €6 billion were removed, that would still leave around €4 billion. However, Doherty says this could be made up if there was proper scrutiny of how much the North raises in corporation tax and VAT returns, TheJournal.ie reports.
He continued: “If you have a company located in Belfast or Derry where its headquarters is in London then its profits are recorded in London, and not in the North.
“So there is a big, big gap there in terms of the actual amount of taxation that is raised in the North that would stay in Ireland in the context of a united Ireland.”
Uniting the two countries would theoretically create a public sector workforce of over 500,000 people within a workforce of 2.8 million people on the island of Ireland.
This would mean that about a fifth of the workforce would be classed as public sector in comparison to the around 13 percent of the workforce which works in the public sector in the south, but Doherty says there would be no redundancies, claiming that redeployment would happen where roles are duplicated.
He also told TheJournal.ie that there is no discrepancy between Sinn Féin’s opposition to the property tax in the south of Ireland and its involvement in an administration which levies local charges in the North.
“The argument in relation to the rates system in the North is not similar and we’ve made that point time and time again. In the rates system in the North there are services provided,” he insisted.
He would not say whether a local authority charge would be leveled in a United Ireland but did say that a tax in the region of €300 could be considered if “everybody gets their bins collected for free, you get free education and you get your septic tank emptied and you get emergency services free."
“We have to have the fiscal powers first in relatin to the property tax.”
On the overall issue of taxation in a United Ireland, Doherty said that Sinn Fein favors levies on income over any other form of taxation, saying that a “third rate of tax” is something the party believes in for both countries.
“We believe that companies should pay their proper effective rate of tax,” he said. “We believe that some of the tax reductions that are available in terms of pension contributions, which are basically being absorbed by the highest earners in this State, should be limited.
“Those areas need to be exhausted before we look at any other type of taxation.”