Speaking in the Dáil debate today on the ‘Government’s Priorities for the Year Ahead’ Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams slated the government’s austerity policies and accused Fine Gael and Labour of breaking elect ion promises.
The Sinn Féin leader accused the government of recycling the ‘same old failed politics and the same old way of doing business.’
The Louth TD said:
“The political choices a government makes are defined by its view of society, its ambition, its ideological anchor and the interests that it seeks to represent. In my view, the Government has made choices that are not in the interests of the vast majority of citizens. The Government is, therefore, making the wrong choices in contravention of the mandate it was given.”
Gerry Adams spelt out Sinn Féin’s alternative strategy:
“The Government could introduce a 48% tax on income over €100,000, raising €365 million. It does not do it. That is its choice. It could re-introduce the non-principal private residence charge at €400, raising €151 million. It does not do that.
“It could restore capital gains tax to 40%, raising €98 million. Again, it does not do that. It could increase capital acquisitions tax to 40% and lower the thresholds, raising €108 million. It could introduce a 1% wealth tax, even temporarily, on net wealth over €1 million.
“Sinn Féin has proposed that Oireachtas pay and allowances, including that of the Taoiseach and his Ministers, be reduced by 50% of all amounts over €75,000, and that of Deputies and Senators be reduced to €75,000 and €60,000. This would save €3.7 million. How many home help hours would that provide? How many resources would that provide for children with disabilities? How many medical cards would that produce?
“Sinn Féin has been robust in holding the Government to account and has been measured. At all times our approach has been to honour the mandate we received, to defend the interests of those on low and middle incomes, and to protect and support the most vulnerable of our citizens.
“We have sought to be constructive in opposition. We have put forward proposals which, unlike those of the Government parties, are based on fairness. We are trying to have a view of the social consequences of measures that are brought forward.
“Fine Gael and Labour assumed office on the promise of a new way of doing politics but yet have compounded the worst excesses of their Fianna Fáil predecessors.
“The old discredited way of doing politics continues with slightly different partners in Government. The explanation for all of this was given by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, when he said: "Well, you tend to say things like this during an election campaign."
“These comments may yet serve as the epitaph for this Government. It has been said that too many people do not see any improvement. That is because they have no improvement. In fact, they are worse off.
“The Taoiseach appears to have abandoned his proposal to produce report cards on the performance of Ministers. Given the way that Ministers have stumbled from calamity to controversy and back to calamity again, it is not surprising that there are no report cards. The Taoiseach used to say he had a five-point plan. Now he has no plan whatsoever and really no point.”