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McCreevy move will be musical chairs unless policy changes

21 July, 2004

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has said that the departure of Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy from the Cabinet and the Taoiseach's reshuffle in September "will only be a game of musicial chairs unless Government policy changes".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Many will welcome the departure of Charlie McCreevy from Finance. But it must be remembered that his budgets were Government budgets and in seven years not a single Government TD or Senator voted against any of his measures.

"The policies Minister McCreevy has implemented over the past seven years have widened the gap between the wealthy and the deprived in our society. This is truly a tragedy because the FF/PD governments since 1997 have had two enormous advantages enjoyed by no previous government in the history of this State. Firstly, they have been in office at a time of exceptional prosperity, resulting in huge budget surpluses year after year. Secondly, with a secure position in the Dáil, they have been able to plan ahead for a full term in office. Those advantages were scandalously squandered by the Government and especially by the Minister for Finance.

"The ESRI stated three years ago in July 2001 that the 'high rate of relative income poverty is a serious structural problem that needs to be tackled while the resources are available'. That confirmed the flawed approach of Minister McCreevy. The latest United Nations Human Development Report on Ireland published last week shows that the pattern persists. The richest 10% of people in Ireland are nearly 10 times wealthier than the poorest 10% - the worst wealth/poverty gap in any Western country apart from the USA. While we have entered the 'top 10' of the world's quality of life league, we have the lowest life expectancy of the 10 and among the lowest spending on health and education.

"The departure of Charlie McCreevy from the Cabinet and the Taoiseach's autumn reshuffle will only be a game of musical chairs unless Government policy changes." ENDS

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