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Government’s lack of job creation plan will lead to economic catastrophe – Morgan

10 March, 2009

Speaking in the Dáil this evening on a Private Member's motion on Unemployment and Social Welfare Sinn Féin Spokesperson Arthur Morgan said:

"I would to like to express my broad support and the support of my party for the Labour party motion. The news last week that there are now over 350,000 unemployed and the prospect of up to 600,000 on the dole by the end of year is quite simply frightening. We are looking at an economic catastrophe and if the Government does not change its direction and focus on job creation future generations of Irish workers will pay a terrible price.

"The announcement of closures from Dell in Limerick to SR Technics in Dublin is like something out of a horror story. Every day more and more workers are being told that they will no longer have a job. But behind all these figures and stories of jobs losses lies real human stories. Thousands of families are coping with unemployment, which is something that is very demoralising and has left them in very difficult financial circumstances and caused a lot of strain on families relations.

"And because our mortgages and rent are amongst the highest in Europe families in Ireland are paying a far more terrible price for than many of our European neighbours.

"This Government built up its reputation on job creation. Despite the clear problems in our services, Ministers from this Cabinet said that if nothing else, the Government created jobs. But we have now seen that you're economic policy of short term jobs for short term gains is a complete failure. Real job creation can only be achieved when it is based upon sustainable policies.

"The Government did not listen to us when we warned that our economy was disproportionately reliant on the property market and it is now obvious for everyone, whether it is economists, trade unions or employers, that the Government is incapable of learning from its mistakes.

"I think the most disappointing aspect of the Government's performance over the last six months is that you seem to be behind the curve on almost everything. It is almost like the recession is something that came out of the blue - like it was an unexpected car crash. But when we look at the figures it is patently obvious that the writing was on the wall since December 2007. From end the 2007 onwards there was sharp increases in unemployment. The figures went up and up since that time while job creation fizzled out.

"This is something which was clear for all to see yet the Government made no contingency plans to deal with it. Instead of planning for the economic crisis the Government acted like we were going into a new era of prosperity. Our Former Taoiseach spent his last month of office going from one wine reception to another patting himself on the back and telling everyone what a great contribution he made to the economy - while the current Taoiseach paraded around county Offaly on the top of some bus.

"And while you were engaged in typical Fianna Fáil triumphalism, the economy began to fall off a cliff and it has not stopped falling since.

"During the summer months and towards Christmas the sectors which were bearing the brunt of our economic downturn were our labourers in construction, workers in manufacturing, architects and estate agents.

"But this tsunami of unemployment has now fanned out to other professions such as solicitors, accountants and bank employees.

"The General Director of the Law Society has recently said that there are hundreds of solicitors out of work while major accountancy firms such as KPMG have announced a 10% reduction in their staff.

"Despite Fianna Fáil's claims of the global downturn, the fact of the matter is that you promoted a complete overeliance on our property market; you effectively ignored our other critical sectors such as our SMEs and manufacturing and this had led to the mass unemployment which has caused suffering to thousands of families.

"Many of these job losses are unquestionably linked to property market collapse: solicitor firms became reliant on conveyancing while our banking institutions engaged in more and more reckless lending to fuel property speculation. And this came about because of Government policy which basically sought to make property speculation and development the foundation of our economic polices." ENDS

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