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Rabbitte's comments bizarre and disturbing - Morgan

4 January, 2006

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and spokesperson on Enterprise and Employment, Arthur Morgan, has described the latest comments of Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte in relation to taxation and migrant workers as "bizarre and disturbing". Deputy Morgan made his comments following yesterdays interview with Mr Rabbitte in the Irish Times.

He said, "Either Pat Rabbitte was still feeling the hangover effects of the festive season or the Labour Party leader has completely lost the plot in terms of his political platform. Some would argue that that is nothing new as Mr. Rabbitte has been in more political parties, especially parties with diametrically opposing views, than anybody else on this island. Perhaps his latest comments indicate that he is ready to take the final plunge and join the Progressive Democrats.

"His patronising comments about people on the Left being "misguided" in relation to their demand for the super-rich to pay their fair share of tax is bizarre. They could have been words spoken by Charlie McCreevy or Mary Harney.

"Genuine 'people of the Left' know only too well of the need for a fairer tax system, a progressive tax regime underpinned by a key goal of wealth redistribution -- and they know that this will only come about when the myriad of tax avoidance and evasion schemes that the super wealthy have greedily exploited for years are ended and when people pay tax on the basis that those who have more pay more and those who have less pay less.

"Just as disturbing was the Labour leaders comments on migrants and workers rights. Whether by design or accident, and its hard to tell the difference, he has managed in one fell swoop to shift the blame for the Irish Ferries debacle and the continuing problems of worker displacement, away from the policies of the Government and the employers and on to the heads of migrant workers from both within and outside the EU. This is a disgraceful and retrograde step for any leader of a so-called left wing party and smacks of political opportunism and of appealing the basest of instincts.

"What we need to do is address the reasons why employers seek to displace Irish workers and replace them with migrant workers. We need to concentrate on legislation and regulating standards (including pay and working conditions) of employment and enforcing these standards to prevent the exploitation of workers for profit. We need to ensure that Irish and migrant workers have the exact same pay and conditions of employment and therefore ensure that there is no financial benefit for unscrupulous employers of displacing their existing workforce. I am surprised that the Labour party is not concentrating on the issue of equal pay and rights for all workers and the promotion of solidarity between Irish and migrant workers which is key to preventing the current drive towards lower wages and diminished work conditions.

"As far as the Labour Party is concerned they seem to have lost the argument both internally and externally on a wide range of issues as Pat Rabbitte seeks to exorcise any vestige of James Connolly's socialism from the Party in his vain bid to secure a cabinet seat to the right of Enda Kenny." ENDS

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