McGuinness warns Sinn Féin of the danger of ‘closed minds’

The deputy First Minister has dismissed years of Sinn Féin resistance to the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to fund infrastructure investment, in an oral answer to Ulster Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA.

The Leader of the Opposition was asking Martin McGuinness about the Irish Government’s commitments to delivering parts of the Fresh Start Agreement, pointing out that those commitments are explicitly linked to an Irish Government policy paper than makes no fewer than 45 references to the use of PPPs. This runs contrary to years of Sinn Féin opposition to this type of funding.

Mike Nesbitt said:

“We have quotes dating back 14 years, in which Sinn Féin representatives dismiss PPP, yet today Martin McGuinness warned of what he called the ‘folly’ of having a ‘closed mind’ on this issue and of the need to seek a compromise.

“This is some u-turn from the deputy First Minister and one I am sure will come as a surprise to Connolly House.”


Notes to Editors:

1.       Martin McGuinness was speaking in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday 13 September, after reporting on the latest meeting of the North South Ministerial Council

2.       Quotes from Sinn Féin representatives:

2002 article in AnPhoblacht on PPP’s

27th April 2004:

Davy Hyland has welcomed the announcement of investment in the schools estate but expressed concern that the majority of the programme particularly for secondary schools is dependent on Public Private Partnerships.

"Of the £222 million announced today the reality is that only £107 million is currently in place under conventional building plans. The bulk of the money announced today is for the building of new schools, mainly secondary schools, through the use of Public Private Partnerships.

"While using private money may seem an easy way to get quick investment, the costs both in terms of long-term payments and the standards delivered may be considerable.

"Sinn Fein share widespread concerns about the pay and conditions of ancillary school staff. There are also dangers that profits are put before important issues such as community access to schools. In the past these issues have been properly recognised. It is crucial that they are not lost in the bid to secure greater private investment."


2005 SF Ard Fheis voted to reject PPP’s

1st November 2006:

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has attacked the increasing use of Public Private Partnerships to build schools. He was speaking after Minister Hanafin announced six new schools were to be built in the Leinster area under PPP contracts.

 “It is becoming increasingly evident that PPPs, the handover of the running of schools to private companies, is the most expensive and cumbersome way of doing it.

“At a time when the state’s coffers are awash in funds there is no economic argument whatsoever for the use of PPPs to deliver critical infrastructure.

“As well as places of learning, schools are at the heart of communities and should not be seen as another way for Fianna Fáil to divert more money to private developers.”


31st January 2007:

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: "Sinn Féin is fundamentally opposed to the use of PPPs, which have an atrocious track record to date. We therefore cannot support any legislation which is designed to promote its increased use.


"PPPs are never the optimal means of financing public capital investment projects within the state sector. It is time to call a halt to this madness."


20th May 2008:

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the government to intervene to guarantee the completion of any regeneration projects affected by the withdrawal of the private side of the public private partnerships.

Today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Sinn Féin had warned that Public Private Partnerships were over reliant on private developers who would not be around once the housing market dropped and this has proven to be the case. The government must now step into the builders shoes and ensure that the houses are built on time and that the regeneration of these areas of severe disadvantage occurs.

"This situation highlights the need for a change in government policy to ban the use of Public Private Partnerships for such basic requirements as public housing projects. Because of this reliance on PPPs hundreds of families are now waiting in unsuitable accommodation for the completion of their homes.


"The Public Private arrangements were forced against their will on the people of St. Michael's by former Minister Martin Cullen. They were told that this would ensure the quickest delivery of their regeneration project yet they have been let down once again.


10th December 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke: Public/Private Partnership housing scheme has collapsed Dublin. The private developer associated with the proposed redevelopment of Croke Villas in Ballybough has pulled out of the scheme.

"It shows the folly of such schemes and I believe a serious rethink is needed in relation to all other such schemes. It is clear that public/private partnership just does not work. This is the fourth such scheme to be abandoned in the recent past and along with it the hopes of the long suffering residents of these areas. 


7th July 2015:

Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has today voted against a report on public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Speaking from the European Parliament today, the Sinn Féin MEP said,

“I voted against a report today on public-private partnerships (PPPs).

“Unfortunately, this parliament has adopted a very skewed and deceptive text which does not recognise the serious risks and problems PPPs have for the delivery of public services to citizens.  

“I am particularly disappointed that they include water supply as a target area for an increased participation of private companies.

“Water supply is a natural monopoly and private and public operators do not have the same objectives in the field of water.

“Private companies prioritise profit for shareholders whilst the objective of public operators is to provide safe, clean and accessible water to citizens.

“In my report on the Right2Water I have underlined the need for the human right to water to be enshrined in EU legislation so that no operator can put profit before the provision of water services to citizens.

“Private involvement in the water sector has a record of failure across the world and should not be promoted by the EU.

“In my report I call for more support to public-public partnerships, in line with the Right2Water campaign.”


8th September 2015:

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed the passing of the Boylan report on the Right2Water.

‘This is a victory for civil society and for Right2Water campaigners not only in Ireland but across Europe. The 1.8 million signatories to the Right2Water ECI, the first ever successful example of this mechanism have finally received the support they deserve from an EU institution.

‘Whilst it is disappointing that Fine Gael’s cronies in the European Parliament managed to water down some mention of the need for non-profit cooperation and introduced the call to also promote public-private partnership as well as public-public partnerships, the result overall is a major wake-up call for the Commission.


3rd August 2016:

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing, Planning, and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin has said 'mixed tenure estates on public housing such as Dublin City Councils housing initiative should be funded by government as this will provide a better return for communities and the state’. 

"Public private partnerships have a track record of failure, proving to be more expensive and harder to manage in the long run.


7th September 2016:

Mary Lou McDonald, speaking in relation to the agreement between the Government and Dublin City Council on the development of O’Devaney Gardens has said Sinn Féin Councillors argued and secured the maximum possible amount of social and affordable units to be delivered in the development.

Speaking today the Dublin Central TD said;

“The Public Private Partnership model is not Sinn Féin’s preferred model of social housing delivery and I would certainly not like to see this type of model becoming the norm.

“Sinn Féin wants mixed tenure estates with social, affordable rental and affordable sale, delivered fully by the council and funded fully by the state.”

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