Wednesday 22 January 2020

Labour Party pledges to stop wasteful public spending if elected

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin criticised Fine Gael for letting projects such as the children’s hospital and broadband plan go over budget

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)
Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

The Labour Party has said it will tackle wasteful public spending as it said voters want responsible management of public money.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar travelled to Aras an Uachtarain on Tuesday afternoon to seek the dissolution of the Dail after calling a General Election on February 8.

Labour Party party leader Brendan Howlin said he hopes to deliver a “critical mass” of TDs to the next Dail.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins following his request to dissolve the 32nd Dail (Damien Eagers/PA)

Speaking at the party’s first election press conference in Dublin on Tuesday, he said the party is running 31 candidates and hopes to return “a significant cohort” of Labour TDs.

Mr Howlin said the party will seek to tackle wasteful government spending if it is elected.

It follows controversy over the rising cost of building a new national children’s hospital in Dublin and the roll-out of a national broadband plan – which have both gone hundreds of millions of euro over budget.

He said: “We need to channel public money to where it makes a difference and to stop waste. I think people are really annoyed when they see billions of euro being wasted on a broadband plan that seems seems to be a blank cheque of three billion euro, when you can do it in Northern Ireland for half that price.”

“We desperately need a children’s hospital but do we we need the most expensive hospital on the planet? I think people want responsible management, but they want quality public services and they know Labour has traditionally done that.”

While Sinn Fein returned to powersharing government in Northern Ireland this week, Mr Howlin echoed pledges from other political parties Fianna Fail and Fine Gael that they would not do business with Sinn Fein if it is elected to Government.

He said: “I have said in the past that I worked with Sinn Fein on policy platforms throughout this Dail.

“There are very good people working with very good policy platforms on a variety of issues and we worked with them on the housing alliance and elsewhere.”

“I don’t think that the democratic leadership that we see in the Dail is actually the final arbiter of Sinn Fein.

“I think that there are other controlling forces that would cause problems to a party in government. That would cause me anxiety to be honest with you.”

Mr Howlin refused to be drawn on whether he would step aside as leader if Labour is not successful in this election.

He said: “Of course (there) should be generational change, but we also need experience. I think one of the things people look at with some of the newer ministers is that their lack of experience screams out.

“We have a team of 31 candidates and we will combine youth and vitality with experience and proven competence. I think you need all those things to make a real difference.”

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