FF accuses Coalition of exercise in 'self-congratulation'
The Government's Spring Statement on the economy was "an exercise in self-congratulation", Fianna Fáil spokesman Micheal McGrath told the Dáil.
Mr McGrath said the Government had delivered an unequal economic recovery with many sectors of society and regions being left behind.
He castigated what he described as the Government's failure to confront banks over mortgage interest rates - and also said there was no reference to the June 2012 EU pledge in principle to give Ireland a break on legacy bank debt.
The Fianna Fáil TD said 400,000 people - five times the full capacity of Croke Park - were waiting for a hospital appointment. He said the waiting lists were getting worse with increases averaging up to one-third year on year.
And he said the best way to spread fairness was to cut the USC. "We need a fair recovery. We need a broadly based recovery. There are towns and villages throughout this country that are dying on their feet," Mr McGrath said.
The Fianna Fáil TD welcomed the reduction in unemployment but warned that there was no room for complacency. He said 350,000 people were still out of work, thousands of people were on government employment schemes and there was the ongoing problem of long-term unemployment.
Mr McGrath said there was also an urgent need to reform the labour market and give workers better terms and conditions, while small and medium-sized enterprises were also neglected.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the statements meant nothing to ordinary people, while struggling families were bearing the brunt of the downturn.
"The truth is that you have shifted the tax burden onto low- and middle-income families," Mr Doherty told the Dáil.
Former Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton condemned the Spring Statement on the economy as "scattered promises" and "disorganised thoughts".
Ms Creighton, who launched Renua Ireland with other former Fine Gael TDs and senators, said the plans harked back to when Fianna Fáil's Charlie McCreevy was Finance Minister - despite the Government's insistence to the contrary.
For the Technical Group, Independent TD Catherine Murphy acknowledged progress on job creation. But she said there was little done on real political reform and huge problems such as poor broadband provision remained.