Election Diary: Sinn Fein mute on corporation tax cuts as Greens say no

Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill at Sinn Fein's manifesto launch

Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill at Sinn Fein's manifesto launch

The Green Party has proposed scrapping the planned cut in corporation tax and instead said that it would raise the tax for big companies to 30%.

However, Sinn Fein has gone quiet on the issue, declining to clarify its stance after the party’s manifesto made no mention of corporation tax.

Yesterday’s Green manifesto commits the party to abandoning Stormont’s proposal to cut the business tax to 12.5%, which would bring it into line with the Republic.

Sinn Fein’s decision to collapse the Executive had put that into jeapordy and it is now thought almost impossible to achieve by the original target date of next April.

However, the party’s manifesto for this election makes no mention whatsoever of corporation tax – unlike the last Sinn Fein manifesto for a Westminster election which two years ago which said that “full control” over corporation tax must be devolved to Stormont – the first step towards cutting it.

There is no mention of corporation tax at all this time and only two mentions of tax in any form (last time there were 22 mentions of tax).

The News Letter asked Sinn Fein whether the absence of any mention of corporation tax meant that the party policy to slash the tax had been abandoned.

In response, the party made no mention of the issue but instead said that “this election is about Brexit”.

Greens: Subsidise ferries, tax the rich ... and fund us

The Green Party has proposed subsidising ferry journeys between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in order to move people from planes to boats.

The idea is one of several eye-catching suggestions in the party’s manifesto.

Among the proposals are:

• State funding of political parties to remove the potential for donors influencing public spending decisions;

• Require NHS staff to declare financial conflicts of interest, including private healthcare work they undertake;

• Introduce a flexible school starting age, recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not put children first;

• Secure a referendum on any final Brexit deal;

• Give an additional £10 billion to health, £7 billion to education and raise child benefit;

• Fund increased spending by higher taxes on the wealthy – including a Wealth Tax of 2% per year on the wealthiest 1% of people – and big businesses.

The party also commits to reforming Northern Ireland’s much-criticised libel laws which it said “can be used to stifle open debate and democracy”.

Religion apology

An Alliance councillor has apologised after suggesting that being religious is negative.

Emmet McDonagh-Brown, who is campaigning for Paula Bradshaw in South Belfast, tweeted: “South Belfast has a big choice between DUP/SDLP=right-wing, religious, regressive. Alliance=pro-Europe, progressive and cross-community”. The comment was criticised by several people, including an Alliance supporter. The SDLP’s Séamas De Faoite said it was “not acceptable” to conflate being religious with being regressive.

An Alliance spokesman said that he “realised the tweet created the impression religion was negative”. Rather, he had intended “to highlight the imposition of your religious doctrine and beliefs upon others is a negative”, and therefore he “apologised to those offended”.