Wednesday 29 March 2017

Young FG accuses Gilmore of 'lies and hypocrisy'

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

LABOUR Party leader Eamon Gilmore has been accused of "lies and deception and hypocrisy" on Budget cuts by Fine Gael's next generation.

And struggling homeowners hoping to see part of their negative equity or mortgages arrears written off got little sympathy from the youth wing of the main opposition party.

At the Young Fine Gael national conference in Charleville, Co Cork, the party's leadership was repeatedly told by its younger members to put the country first in its economic policies.

But a perception existed in Fine Gael that the party "can't touch Labour", according to Young Fine Gael's new president Eric Keane, from Clare.

"Yet they get up on every occasion and criticise us. The Labour Party claims to be more pious and principled than the Pope," he said.

Mr Keane said two interviews with Mr Gilmore revealed he was in favour of "not cutting anything, spending everything".

"Lies and deception and hypocrisy," he said to rapturous applause.

Councillor Simon Harris, from Wicklow, said Fine Gael was the only party with credible plans for job creation.

He said the country needed "leadership not showmanship on 'The Late Late Show'" -- another disparaging reference to Mr Gilmore, who was on the programme at the weekend.

Alan Gallagher, from Dublin South, was optimistic about a Fine Gael overall majority, but wasn't enamoured with going into coalition with Labour.

But Fine Gael's much-vaunted job-creation policy also came in for criticism. Tadhg O'Donovan, from University College Cork, questioned why the party was proposing to sell state assets in a depressed market.

"The price you get for something like the ESB will be less than five years ago or in five years time," he said.

Meanwhile, "lazy commentators" and economists calling for the cancellation of some mortgage debt by banks were accused of promoting "an act of gross irresponsibility" as the taxpayer would have to pick up the bill.

Burden

The youth wing's outgoing president, Barry Walsh, from Limerick, said debt cancellation was asking people who never bought a house "to take on the burden of a very large mortgage".

"The State will pay for it. We will pay for it," he said.

To avoid the rate of repossessions spiralling, Mr Walsh said government policy should be to give "absolutely every chance" and help to those in arrears to pay their mortgages.

As the opposition to debt cancellation was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates, Colm Taylor, from South Tipperary, was the only dissenting voice as he said people were "fooled into taking out mortgages".

He said it was wrong to "allow a bank, which is bailed out already, to take a house".

Mr Taylor also said the country was broke. "If we vote the next Budget down, the country is screwed. Do you realise how bad that will be?" he added.

Irish Independent

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