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Sinn Féin will be only election alternative to Consensus for Cuts – Ó Caoláin

23 November, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhhgín Ó Caoláin has said his party would be the only alternative to the Consensus for Cuts in the forthcoming General Election. He called for an immediate election before Fianna Fáil and the Greens impose a savage budget. He also challenged Fine Gael and Labour on their attitude to the budget.

He said:

“We are being asked to carry on as normal in a Dáil with a Taoiseach and a Cabinet who haven’t a shred of credibility or political authority left. We have a Coalition Government in which one partner has expressed no confidence in the other and has given notice to quit.

“The Government is to put the State further in hock to international money-lenders. The cost is to be savage with widespread cutbacks that will plunge large sections of the Irish people into poverty.

“If the cuts are not savage enough for the IMF and the EU they will be deepened further.

“Already the IMF has made clear that it will be looking for the lowering of the minimum wage and the cutting of social welfare payments for the unemployed. This is totally in line, of course, with the Fianna Fáil/Green Government thinking - hit the lower paid, hit the poor, drive the unemployed further into despair.

“And what of Fine Gael? Is it the case that they will be happy to see a savage Budget passed by Fianna Fáil, the Greens and, if they are lucky, their so-called Independent supporters? Is Fine Gael banking on a passed budget, Fianna Fáil taking the blame in the election, Fine Gael sailing into Government and then fully implementing the self-same budget?

“Does Fine Gael know what it wants? Yesterday Deputy James Reilly was calling for an immediate General Election. Today at Leaders’ Questions Deputy Kenny called for the Fianna Fail/Green Government to remain in office to bring in a budget next week.

“Will Labour do as Deputy Eamon Gilmore indicated last Friday on the Late Late Show and refuse to reverse the cuts in such a Budget?

“This is a travesty of democracy. There needs to be an immediate General Election. Sinn Féin will continue to press relentlessly for that and we will vehemently oppose a budget that will drive large sections of the Irish people into poverty and delay economic recovery for years.

“The forthcoming General Election will be one of the most important ever held. Sinn Féin will be standing as the only real alternative to the Consensus for Cuts and we are confident that our message is striking a chord with the Irish people.” ENDS

Full text follows:

Statements on Euro-Group Finance Ministers’ Meeting 23.11.10

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Dáil leader

The debate we should be having this evening is not this one but a debate on the motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach tabled by the Sinn Féin Deputies. We are being asked to carry on as normal in a Dáil with a Taoiseach and a Cabinet who haven’t a shred of credibility or political authority left. We have a Coalition Government in which one partner has expressed no confidence in the other and has given notice to quit.

The subject of these Statements - the Euro-Group Finance Ministers Meeting last Sunday – was but one of the steps taken in the past week to sell out what remains of the economic sovereignty of this State.

For over a week this Government tried to deceive the Irish people about the imminent arrival of the International Monetary Fund to take control of our economy. The Fianna Fáil/Green Government took the people for fools but they were found out. The Central Bank Governor Patrick Holohan had to go on radio last Thursday to bring the deception to an end.

Then on Sunday the Government finally admitted the truth when the Minister for Finance's announcement confirmed what had been denied – that the Government was to put the State further in hock to international money-lenders. The cost is to be savage with widespread cutbacks that will plunge large sections of the Irish people into poverty.

Make no mistake, if the cuts are not savage enough for the IMF and the EU they will be deepened further. Social supports, public services and jobs will be devastated if this proceeds.

Fianna Fáil, the so-called republican party, having squandered the people's money, has now sold out the remnants of Irish sovereignty in order to continue bailing out the banks.

IMF intervention was brought about directly by the scandalous policies of this Government. An EU/IMF bail-out will not be a bail-out for the Irish people. It will be a further bail-out for the banks but the Irish people will have to pay the price.

This will represent a loss of control over our economy with implications far beyond the 12.5% corporation tax rate. While the media have focussed on this, the reality is that the IMF dictates policy across a whole range of areas. This will mean even more savage cuts to health and education, public service jobs and social welfare as well as tax increases for the lower paid and the selling off of State assets.

Already the IMF has made clear that it will be looking for the lowering of the minimum wage and the cutting of social welfare payments for the unemployed. This is totally in line, of course, with the Fianna Fáil/Green Government thinking - hit the lower paid, hit the poor, drive the unemployed further into despair.

And what of Fine Gael? Is it the case that they will be happy to see a savage Budget passed by Fianna Fáil, the Greens and, if they are lucky, their so-called Independent supporters? Is Fine Gael banking on a passed budget, Fianna Fáil taking the blame in the election, Fine Gael sailing into Government and then fully implementing the self-same budget?

Does Fine Gael know what it wants? Yesterday Deputy James Reilly was calling for an immediate General Election. Today at Leaders’ Questions Deputy Kenny called for the Fianna Fail/Green Government to remain in office to bring in a budget next week.
Will Labour do as Deputy Eamon Gilmore indicated last Friday on the Late Late Show and refuse to reverse the cuts in such a Budget?

The great tragedy is this need not have happened.

We need not be facing a savage budget or an IMF intervention.

If the Government had burned the bondholders, set up a State bank and pursued a real plan for economic recovery there would be no call for any such bailout.

It can still be avoided. Such a real recovery plan has been put forward by Sinn Féin. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has put forward similar proposals. So have individual unions, as well as community and voluntary organisations and many individual economists.

Instead Fianna Fáil and the Greens are about to bring us down the road of so many countries where the IMF has dictated policy such as:

· Latvia where there was a 30% cut in public service jobs and 17 hospitals closed
· Greece with massive wage cuts and job losses and riots on the streets
· Iceland with savage cuts in health spending, widespread repossessions and evictions
· Ukraine with closed hospitals, pension cuts and unemployment doubled.

We in Sinn Féin warned earlier this year about what was to happen. In Statements on the European Council meeting here in the Dáil last July, my colleague Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:

“This Government has also tied the State to the EU's blind determination to protect the euro which means participating in the bail-out of Greece when our deficit exceeds that of Greece. In a few months' time we could have the potential situation where Greece is asked to bail out the Irish economy. This shows the ludicrous nature of what is being discussed and imposed upon us. It means partaking of a new loan facility fund, despite the demands that fund can put on a state if it avails of those finances.

“The EU is becoming the IMF and this Government is signing up wholeheartedly to it, up to the point of agreeing that Brussels should have sight of and commentary on our sovereign budgets in advance of them being put to the national Parliament. This is an insult to this House and an insult to the budgetary process which has gone through the Oireachtas quite well for a number of years. The Government is signing up to an interference from outside in our affairs. That amounts to a loss of sovereignty.”

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