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Government has brought inequalities to new depths - Ó Caoláin

5 July, 2006

Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has tabled an amendment, on behalf of the Sinn Féin TDs, to the Fine Gael/Labour Private Members motion calling for an early election. Deputy Ó Caoláin said Sinn Féin would have no difficulty in supporting the points in the Fine Gael/Labour motion as tabled but it does not go far enough. He said, "The Fine Gael/Labour motion deliberately omits fundamental failures of this Government because these two parties cannot publicly agree on them."

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Sinn Féin would have no difficulty in supporting the points in the Fine Gael/Labour motion as tabled but it does not go far enough. Therefore I wish to formally move the amendments in the name of the Sinn Féin deputies.

"The Fianna Fáil/PD government has brought inequality in Irish society and incompetence in Irish governance to new depths. This is despite the vast amounts of revenue at its disposal. Never had an Irish Government and seldom had any government in the world such resources with which to build a society and an economy on the basis of equality and excellence. But the resources have been grossly mismanaged by this Government. It has pursued fatally flawed policies and nowhere more so than in our health services. Health policy is now dominated by the privatisation agenda of the PDs. While our public system struggles with shortage of beds and shortage of staff the Government is pouring public money into the private health business. It is bolstering the two-tier system that makes our health services both inequitable and inefficient.

"However there is no mention of the two-tier system in this motion. That's because the Fine Gael and Labour parties cannot agree on it.

"The true political alignment in this Dáil was exposed just after midnight last night when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael joined together to vote through a Defence Bill that undermines Irish neutrality and independent foreign policy. They were opposed by Sinn Féin, the Green Party and several independent Deputies. The Labour Party abstained.

"This is but the latest example of how on real policy issues there is little or no difference between the two large right-wing parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. And in typical opportunist fashion the Labour Party simply went into hiding -- fearful to vote for the Bill lest it alienate many of their members and supporters who value neutrality but equally fearful of exposing too stark a difference between them and their Fine Gael partner.

"Such gaps also exist between Fine Gael and Labour on other key issues like the privatisation of Aer Lingus which Fine Gael supports and Labour opposes. That is not to say that Deputy Rabbitte and company would not swallow Fine Gael policies whole in order to get into Government. The Labour Party would do so in the future as it did in the past. But in the meantime it has to rally its support base to make the gains it believes are possible in the General Election.

"Both Fine Gael and Labour take the Green Party for granted in all of this, hoping that they to will 'do a Labour' and make up the numbers in a coalition. Green Party members should think very hard before going down that road.

"Few in the media care to set out these uncomfortable facts. They are too busy teeing up the personality contest between Enda and Bertie and their sidekicks Pat and Mary.

"But the real issues are there and many of them are issues of difference between Fine Gael and Labour. The General Election when it comes should not be fought on the narrow ground on which Fine Gael and Labour can agree. That's why we have tabled these amendments challenging this Government's record including the two-tier health system, the privatisation of Aer Lingus, the sinister role of the Minister for Justice, the erosion of Irish neutrality, the sell-off of our natural resources, the scourge of drugs in working-class communities, the rights of workers and the sluggish Government approach to the peace process.

"I don't expect the Taoiseach to dissolve the Dáil during the summer recess. But whenever he does so Sinn Féin will be ready and waiting to challenge this Government and to provide the real alternative in Irish politics." ENDS

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