Speaking in the Dáil this morning on Labour and Fine Gael’s record in government Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD described the parties’ poor record on reform as not so different to Fianna Fail’s.
Deputy McDonald said:
“On taking up office this government’s job was never going to be an easy one. Decades of Fianna Fáil’s short termism and self-interest resulted in a catastrophic shock to the Irish economy.
“The challenge for any new government was always going to be immense, but it was also an opportunity to challenge the fundamental faults in our political system.
“Yet little of the fundamental reforms, cultural changes or fairness that people voted for in 2011 has materialised. Fine Gael and Labour simply took up where Fianna Fáil left off.
“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has kept his focus solely on the bottom line. Brendan Howlin has refused to concede that the measures set out in his public service reform plan are at best modernisation.
“This government has continued the work of Fianna Fáil by indiscriminately savaging public sector numbers, a policy that has back fired and government is now quietly backing away from.
“Far from improving the capacity of SMEs to tender for public sector contracts, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is often acting as a blockage to the sector.
“Government contracts are worth billions of euro to the local economy, yet small and micro enterprises are not accessing this important market.
“Social clauses are still not a staple of government procurement contracts, and to date government have offered up no sensible argument as to why this is.
“Freedom of Information has still not been restored to its former glory, and the last time the legislation came before TDs Minister Howlin endeavoured to pull a fly one on the issue of charges.
“Reforms, rare as they are, only happen in an environment of crisis.
“Government has decided to set aside the Programme for Government commitment to introduce consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation.
“Fine Gael and Labour made a raft of promises on equality.
“Government is not pursuing gender quotas within its own cabinet never mind state boards. They committed to require all public bodies to take due note of equality and human rights in carrying out their functions, yet they refuse to sign up to equality budgeting.
“Despite promises of the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities – government continues to stand over direct provision.
“Little has changed for the travelling community.
“The little promised to some, not all, survivors of the Magdalene Laundries has yet to be delivered on and government has turned its back on those who survived Bethany Home.
“Illegal adoptions have yet to be grappled with.
“Louise O’Keefe was forced by the state to take her case to Europe, and it was this government who last year argued that the state had no liability for what happened to children whilst attending primary school.
“So whilst Labour and Fine Gael clap each other on the back and wax lyrical about budget consolidation and doing more with less, the reality is this government is not so different to the last.”