4 July 2012
Troika tells Sinn Féin: 'Government has significant scope on policies and choices’
EU, ECB and IMF hear: Austerity isn’t working
'It is the Government who are forcing the burden of adjustment on low-income and middle-income families'
SINN FÉIN leaders meeting the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF in Dublin today in another review of the bail-out programme for the Irish economy have again told the Troika that austerity is not working, is blocking a return to growth and is hurting low-income and middle-income families.
Sinn Féin TDs Deputy Pearse Doherty (Finance), Mary Lou McDonald (Public Expenditure & Reform), Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Social Protection) and West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty met with the Troika review group in Dublin this morning.
Pearse Doherty said afterwards:
“Our meeting with the Troika was frank and constructive. However, it is clear that they are more focused on meeting deficit reduction targets than on the need for investment in jobs and growth.”
He said that they discussed the impact of austerity on families, the need to invest in job creation, the outworking of last Friday’s European Council meeting, proposed changes to social welfare schemes (including Community Employment and Child Benefit), the Croke Park Agreement and the Irish Government’s funding of the A5 Dublin to Derry motorway.
The Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson told An Phoblacht that although the Troika said the Irish Government must meet its deficit reduction targets “they made it very clear that the way in which these targets are met is a matter for the Government”.
The Sinn Féin delegation said the Fine Gael/Labour Government therefore has “significant scope” on issues such as tax reform, public spending and social welfare payments and the choice in what policies it pursues. It has the freedom to ease the burden on the majority of Irish families if it wants to.
“Contrary to what Government ministers are telling us,” Pearse Doherty said, “it is the Government who are forcing the burden of adjustment on low-income and middle-income families rather than on the very wealthy in our society.”
Sinn Féin Social Protection spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh added:
“The Troika representatives confirmed for me this morning that all and any social welfare changes are entirely at the discretion of the Government. The Government is not bound to cut Child Benefit, the household benefits package, free travel or Community Employment for that matter. If the Government does cut these it is because they want to do so.
"I brought all the findings of the recent all-party Oireachtas Committee ‘Report on the Single Working Age Payment’, of which I was the author, to the Troika members’ attention. This report clearly warns against the merging of social assistance payments at this time. I explained to the Troika representatives that such a move would double the ratio of job seekers to job vacancies from 50:1 to 100:1.
“I also raised the importance of maintaining schemes such as Child Benefit, free travel and the household benefits package. And I outlined the importance and value of CE schemes.”
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