Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD this morning delivered the keynote address to the European Infrastructure Conference in Dublin.
During the course of her comments, Ms. McDonald called for a new industrial policy. She said that this is a time for the government to lead and for the State to be centre stage, and it also a time for collaboration between the public and the private sector.
Ms. McDonald said:
“I believe that we are once again facing a great transition and a new Whitaker plan will be needed to meet these challenges. We will need to invest in our people. We will need to promote innovation in how we deliver public infrastructure. We will need to harness the strengths of Ireland’s natural resources, like wind energy, and we can do this together.
“Conventional economic wisdom once held that the public sector and the private sector, the State and the market, were opposing forces. And what was good for one was bad for the other, and vice versa. That thinking was erroneous. This is a time to move from the conventional to the dynamic, and to look to the future with ambition and positivity.
“This a time for collaboration.
“Government must bring pace and urgency. Most importantly government must lead with an ambitious plan. The State must be centre stage. We need to reform our planning system so that it’s fit for purpose in delivering critical infrastructure.
“I recently spoke about how Ireland has three big, transformational opportunities in this decade. The reunification of our country and the building of the all-Ireland economy, the achievement of energy independence, and the power of our young people. We must show the ambition and the energy realise all three. We have the chance to revolutionise our public infrastructure, which as the IMF recently pointed out, continues to hinder our competitiveness.
“We want to see the State and industry collaborate on an agenda that sees innovation and high wages at the very heart of our economy. We want to invest in our universities and colleges – opening up opportunities so that our people can learn, develop and reskill and Irish firms can be helped to seize the opportunities and technologies of tomorrow.
“We want to collaborate and to work together across the all-island economy as we journey now to national unity. Taking an all-island approach to the key infrastructure projects will play a big part in unlocking Ireland’s huge potential. For example, our energy transformation would be supercharged by an approach that utilises all of our island’s resources. By adopting a strategy that fosters the synergies of our energy sector workforce, our ports, our storage capacity, north and south.
“Key to our prosperity and development today and in the future is not a race to the bottom, but a race to the top. Innovation is the engine of economic development. It’s the basis for improving productivity which in turn drives up employment, wages and living standards. Fixing our broken housing system – a key piece of Ireland’s public infrastructure – would represent a smart investment in our long-term competitiveness.
“Delivering affordable homes to buy and rent is not only an urgent social imperative, but one which demands an unprecedent level of collaboration from all sectors, from all those willing to contribute solutions.
“We must for plan for change. Invest in change, and must harness change as the driver of Ireland’s success over the next decade. But talk is cheap. Empty visions are even cheaper, easy to present in glossy documents and even easier to discard. We’ve all had enough of that.
“We all know that delivery is what matters.
“I believe in getting things done. I believe that pace in not the enemy of the good, that we can deliver modern, world-class infrastructure on time and on budget. And I believe in working together to achieve big things – to create opportunities and see them realised too.
“As we build for the future, I understand that people need certainty, a sense of the plan, and full sight of the direction of travel. Here’s one thing you can be certain of.
“Sinn Féin is ambitious for Ireland, for our people, and for our economy. Revolutionising our public infrastructure is at the centre of that ambition. We will collaborate. We will co-operate. We will listen to and work hard with all sectors. We will bring fresh ideas with a relentless energy to succeed, and if given the change to lead, make no mistake, we will get the work done.”