Gormley plays up positives but future looks bleak
THE Green Party last night insisted it had scored major concessions in the multi-billion cost-cutting plan that they are unlikely to have to implement.
The party was anxious to play up the positives in last night's plan -- knowing it faces a potential wipe-out in the New Year elections it has called for.
Leader John Gormley claimed the party had managed to protect numerous education areas from cutbacks and ensured education spending would increase over the four-year period.
The party also claimed credit for ensuring the student registration fee was only increased from €1,500 to €2,000 and not the mooted €3,000.
Just days after causing shock and consternation by calling for a general election in the New Year, Mr Gormley appeared alongside Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to launch the four-year plan.
Mr Gormley said the Government was facing the "biggest economic challenges" in the history of the State.
However, opinion polls suggested the Fianna Fail /Green Party Government would not be overseeing those "challenges" after an election in the New Year.
Mr Gormley accepted there were elements of the plan which would be difficult for many people.
"I must say that we are in our current difficulties because of past mistakes leading to an unsustainable property bubble further inflated by reckless banking practices," Mr Gormley said.
The Green Party has pledged to vote for the Budget and get it past all stages. The party is languishing at around 3pc in the polls -- making it difficult for its six TDs to retain their seats.
The carbon tax, which was introduced by the Green Party, will increase from €15 to €30 per tonne over the next four years and will result in increases in the cost of petrol, diesel and home-heating oil.
There was nothing in last night's four-year plan to suggest that those on low incomes and social welfare would be compensated for the hike in energy costs.
The cost of petrol has increased by four cents and diesel by five cents already this year, while the cost of heating oil has increased by 8pc.