Wednesday 29 March 2017

O'Keeffe challenges Gilmore to spell out cuts plan

Aine Kerr

LABOUR Party leader Eamon Gilmore was last night challenged by a senior government minister to spell out what he would cut in the Budget.

Mr Gilmore yesterday ruled out slashing child benefit, cutting dole payments or introducing a property tax.

But he again failed to outline enough measures to produce the required €3bn-plus in cutbacks and savings.

Mr Gilmore did propose introducing water charges, adjusting the capital spending programme, reducing the public sector pay bill, changing the second-home tax and introducing a third rate of tax.

But Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe claimed Mr Gilmore's "continuing resistance" to spelling out the full details of how he would cut the budget deficit and rescue Ireland's economy is doing a "disservice to the nation".

Experience

"Increasingly, Mr Gilmore is defined by what he is against, not what he is for," Mr O'Keeffe said.

And he asked if Mr Gilmore is the man Ireland wanted to answer the '3am call' -- a reference to a famous advertisement former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used to attack Barack Obama's lack of experience in times of crisis.

"By refusing to level with the people at this time of great national challenge, Mr Gilmore has revealed his continued preference to court polls and popularity at the expense of the country's interests," Mr O'Keeffe said.

"This is not a time for platitudes and phoney rhetoric," he added.

Mr Gilmore yesterday pledged not to hit "middle-income Ireland" in an interview with the 'Evening Herald'.

Greater scrutiny of Labour's policies comes as Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny took a sideswipe at the Labour Party over the weekend.

"Fine Gael is the only party that has worked exceptionally hard, that has produced our plans and is ready," Mr Kenny said.

Irish Independent

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