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PDs have pursued an agenda of inequality with relish for years

28 May, 2004

Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald described Michael McDowell's statement this morning that 'inequality is an incentive to the economy' as a succinct declaration of the PD's right wing policies. Ms McDonald accused the PD's of pursuing an agenda of inequality with relish over the last seven years, leaving communities across Ireland devastated in their wake.

Ms McDonald said:

"Since 1997 the PDs have pursued an agenda of inequality with relish. They led an unprecedented assault on communities across Ireland with their policy of slashing Community Employment Schemes. In 1997, there were almost 40,000 CE participants. Seven years later the number is 25,000. Almost one thousand CE Schemes have disappeared. These cutbacks have devastated community projects and services across the state. Home helps, meals-on-wheels, childcare, environmental and heritage projects have all suffered.

"The value of these schemes to communities is immeasurable, and there is nothing to replace them. CE Schemes, and other programmes like them, are an example of the role the State can play in empowering communities, in providing them with the skills, resources and personnel to make a difference, whether it is in Ballymun, Ballyfermot, or the South Inner City.

"And it doesn't stop there. Instead of building the services that our people need, instead of developing strategies to end poverty, provide decent affordable housing and improving health care, the PDs and Fianna Fáil have used the wealth of the last decade to reward the wealthy and to feather the nests of their friends in big business. They extended tax breaks for developers of hotels, holiday camps and holiday cottages while 50,000 households languish on waiting lists and local authorities are deprived of funding to provide social housing. They also extended tax giveaways to developers of private hospitals and private sports injuries clinics. While Minister McCreevy throws money at the lucrative private health business our public health system is in a state of continuing crisis.

"The Minister's latest quest for an unequal society has come in the form of the Citizenship Referendum. If he has his way and it is passed, we will have a situation where two children born in an Irish hospital at the same time will be completely unequal, one will be considered Irish and one will not.

"Michael McDowell is the Minister charged with responsibility for equality and the fact that he is actively pursuing inequality in rhetoric and in deed, makes his position untenable."ENDS

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