Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government Programme is dolled up version of FF/Green plan – Ó Caoláin

9 March, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, speaking in the Dáil debate on the new Cabinet, said the Fine Gael/Labour Programme for Government is as much the work of Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan as that of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore. He said it is a “dolled up version of the Fianna Fail/Green Party plan”. He challenged new Health Minister James Reilly to reverse the health cuts of the last Government.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The bus has a new driver and a new coat of paint but it’s still travelling in the same direction - the wrong direction. The road map was drawn up by Fianna Fáil, the IMF and the ECB. If Fine Gael and Labour stick with this road map they will drive us over the cliff as surely as Fianna Fáil and the Greens would have done had they remained in office.

“What was the timeframe the Fine Gael and Labour drafters had in mind when they drew up this Programme for Government? Their eyes were not on the next five years, let alone the next generation. Their target was Sunday afternoon, 6 March 2011, when they had to get the document carried at the Labour Party conference.

“Behind all the fudges and all the ambiguities in the text, the truth is that this Programme for Government is a dolled up version of the Fianna Fáil/Green Party four-year plan. It is as much the work of Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan as it is of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore. It is based on continuing with the IMF/EU sell-out deal and with the pouring of public money into zombie banks.

“The Programme is committed to introducing universal health insurance. Sinn Féin is strongly in favour of universal single-tier public healthcare – not based on the insurance model but based on fair taxation and an end to the State subsidisation of the private healthcare industry. The insurance-based system in this Programme will lead to the further privatisation of healthcare and to insurance companies being given an undue role in determining the level of care received by citizens.

“And what happens to healthcare in the meantime? Will this Government reverse the health cutbacks of Fianna Fail and the Greens?

“I call on the new Minister for Health Deputy James Reilly to honour the commitments given by his party colleagues in Cavan-Monaghan and the North-East and to restore services to Monaghan General Hospital, to Louth County Hospital, Dundalk and to Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan. I call on him to restore cancer services to Sligo General Hospital as his party is pledged to do. Sinn Féin will be holding Minister Reilly to account on the health commitments given by Fine Gael and by Labour throughout the State.”

FULL TEXT FOLLOWS

Dáil Statements on New Cabinet 9.3.2011
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson

Ar dtús ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a rá le gach Teachta a bhí tofa ag an pobal san Olltoghchán. Cuirim comhghairdeas ach go háirithe chun na Teachtaí nua-thofa ó gach páirtí.

I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle, Deputy Seán Barrett, on his election and I welcome newly elected and re-elected Deputies of all parties and independents to this Dáil. I thank the people of Counties Cavan & Monaghan who elected me and the voters of Counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Dublin, Louth, Meath, Laois, Offaly, Cork and Kerry who elected my 13 Sinn Féin colleagues. It has taken almost 14 years since I was first returned as the sole Sinn Féin TD in 1997 to realise this success. No-one can deny that this has been a General Election of truly historic progress for Sinn Féin. With a renewed and greatly strengthened mandate we in Sinn Féin intend to hold this new Government fully to account.

The real focus of today should not be on the personalities of Government but on the Programme for Government.

Looking at the Programme agreed by Fine Gael and Labour we can say that the bus has a new driver and a new coat of paint but it’s still travelling in the same direction, the wrong direction. The road map was drawn up by Fianna Fáil, the IMF and the ECB. If Fine Gael and Labour stick with this road map they will drive us over the cliff as surely as Fianna Fail and the Greens would have done had they remained in office.

What was the timeframe the Fine Gael and Labour drafters had in mind when they drew up this Programme for Government? Their eyes were not on the next five years, let alone the next generation. Their target was Sunday afternoon, 6 March 2011, when they had to get the document carried at the Labour Party conference.

Behind all the fudges and all the ambiguities in the text, the truth is that this Programme for Government is a dolled up version of the Fianna Fáil/Green Party four-year plan. It is as much the work of Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan as it is of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore. It is based on continuing with the IMF/EU sell-out deal and with the pouring of public money into zombie banks.

Instead of rejecting the IMF/ECB deal out of hand, instead of rejecting the four-year plan for further savage cuts, instead of agreeing to make the senior bank bond-holders pay, Fine Gael and Labour signed up for the Fianna Fail/Green Party Consensus for Cuts. That Consensus for Cuts was already in place last November when the Greens announced that they would be pulling out of Government.

What followed was a travesty of democracy when a doomed Government, with no political mandate, proceeded with its four-year plan, the IMF/ECB deal and the savage Budget 2011. All this was put in place before the General Election. The people voted for change but Fine Gael and Labour were at one with the outgoing Government on their basic flawed economic strategy. That flawed strategy remains intact in the Programme for Government. It is very far from the democratic revolution spoken of in the first paragraph of the Programme.

Fine Gael fought the election on the slogan ‘Let’s Get Ireland Working’ but wanted to axe 30,000 public service jobs. The Programme for Government wants to axe 25,000. That sums up the balance of power in this Fine Gael-dominated government. Labour - what have you done?

It is pure fantasy to pretend that 25,000 posts can be taken out without damaging front-line public services. In our health system we already have a staffing crisis in our public hospitals. Yes, the number of administrators, especially senior managers in the HSE, needs to be reduced. But for those who provide healthcare to the public, and vital back-up to front-line healthcare providers, the current recruitment embargo needs to be lifted. There is no sign of that in the Programme.

The Programme is committed to introducing universal health insurance. Sinn Féin is strongly in favour of universal single-tier public healthcare – not based on the insurance model but based on fair taxation and an end to the State subsidisation of the private healthcare industry. The insurance-based system in this Programme will lead to the further privatisation of healthcare and to insurance companies being given an undue role in determining the level of care received by citizens.

And what happens to healthcare in the meantime? Will this Government reverse the health cutbacks of Fianna Fail and the Greens?

I call on the new Minister for Health Deputy James Reilly to honour the commitments given by his party colleagues in Cavan-Monaghan and the North-East and to restore services to Monaghan General Hospital, to Louth County Hospital, Dundalk and to Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan. I call on him to restore cancer services to Sligo General Hospital as his party is pledged to do. Sinn Féin will be holding Minister Reilly to account on the health commitments given by Fine Gael and by Labour throughout the State. And we will be holding each and every member of this Cabinet and the junior Ministers fully to account on their portfolios.

I welcome the commitment to hold the referendum on children’s rights based on the wording agreed by the all-party committee in the last Oireachtas. That referendum should proceed this year.

We need a full and detailed debate on all the contents of this Programme with an opportunity for Members to question the relevant Ministers on the Programme commitments for which they are responsible. That debate should take place as soon as possible.

ENDS

Connect with Sinn Féin