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Lenihan ignoring sound advice and listening to fat cat and developer friends – Morgan

24 June, 2009

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon on the Revised Estimates Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD accused the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan of ignoring the good advice of economists and listening to his fat cat and developer friends. Deputy Morgan said the Government’s two pronged approach to the economy of bailing out the banks and cutting social welfare and public services must change to focus on creating and retaining jobs.

He said, “I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate on the Estimates. It is a mere formality because we did not really have an opportunity to tease out the detail of all the departmental programmes. Even if we had, it would probably have been rather pointless because the Government, as usual, would not have listened to us in any event. However, the debate does confirm for us the Government's continuing two-pronged approach to the economic crisis we are facing.

“On the one hand, it involves, as a top priority, bailing out the banks at any cost, to the tune of €440 billion or whatever it takes, and on the other hand it involves cutbacks for those who can least afford them. The latter include pensioners and others who have had their Christmas bonuses cut. Key public services for such people have been cut right across the board and some of these are the subject of debate before the House at present. This is the Government's strategy to date and it needs to change.

“Many economists have cautioned against this approach. The Minister has obviously been reading their remarks. They have told the Minister on many occasions that what he needs to do is introduce a stimulus package to retain and create jobs and get people back to work. However, the Minister is ignoring them and listening to his friends, the fat cats and developers, which is the wrong approach.

“I believed there was a new development when I heard the announcement yesterday evening that the Minster is putting what sounds like a €250 million fund in place for job retention. If so, I welcome it warmly. I have not heard any details about it but I hope it is modelled on a proposal such as the one my party made to the Minister in March before the April budget. We advocate that a fund of €300 million, to be administered by Enterprise Ireland, be made available over a six-month period with a view to retaining retain jobs.” ENDS

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