15 October 2009 Edition
Budget of Cuts will be the real Programme for Government
SPEAKING last Saturday evening after the decision of the Green Party to endorse a new programme for Government in the 26 Counties Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
“The Green Party is obviously terrified of the prospect of a general election. They had the opportunity today to do the right thing by the Irish people and turf Fianna Fáil out of Government. Instead they missed that opportunity and acted in their own selfish interests.
“They are now set to join with Fianna Fáil in imposing savage cutbacks that will hit the less well off the hardest while the parasites who caused the economic crisis are bailed out by NAMA.”
On Tuesday, as the Dáil opened for the first time since the Fianna Fáil/Green Party agreement Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and the party’s Dáil group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin addressed reporters at Leinster House.
Gerry Adams said:
“While the new Programme for Government avoids making any comment about the cuts that it will implement, it states that its approach to the public finances will include taking into account the findings of the McCarthy report – this means severe and far reaching cuts to public services and social protections.
“Many people will be particularly angry that the new programme does not contain a commitment to maintain current social welfare rates and reinstate the Christmas Social Welfare Bonus. Why did the Greens seek no assurance on this key issue?”
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
“The Green Party and Fianna Fáil have produced a revised Programme for Government that is essentially a face-saver for the Green Party, allowing them to remain in Government and to avoid the punishment from the electorate which they would face in a General Election.
“This Programme needs to be debated section by section in the Dáil so that the commitment of the relevant Ministers to the measures outlined can be tested. The document is full of aspirations but has few hard and fast commitments.
“The leader of the Green Party John Gormley is his party’s former Health spokesperson in opposition and he was a strong critic of the inequity of our health services. Yet the Health section of the revised Programme is simply a continuation of the failed policies of Fianna Fáil and the PDs, which have left our public health services in a state of recurring crisis, while boosting the for-profit private health sector. Having previously opposed the co-location of private hospitals on public hospital sites, the Greens have agreed to the continuation of these pet projects of Mary Harney.
“There is no reversal of any of the health cutbacks that have caused such pain in our public health services. Nor is there any reference to the McCarthy plan for a whole range of even more savage cutbacks across public services, which will form the basis for the forthcoming Budget. That Budget of Cuts will be the real Programme for Government and it will take financial support and public services away from those who need them most.”
ALL SMILES AND HANDSHAKES: The Green Party Convention voted to stay in government but why did the Greens seek no assurance on key issue?