Friday 13 December 2019

Martin slams FG, vows no return to 'auction politics'

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin TD and his wife Mary. Photo: Collins
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin TD and his wife Mary. Photo: Collins
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin last night vowed to have his party's General Election commitments independently costed and published with its manifesto before the election.

In his Ard Fheis speech, Mr Martin challenged other parties to do the same - "something no party has done before". He said: "There will be no auction politics. No uncosted promises. No proposals which could damage the economy."

He also said that Fianna Fail would scrap Irish Water and the "failed, loss-making charge which funds it".

Mr Martin rounded on Fine Gael in particular and described the Government as "arrogant and out of touch". He said:"They want a coronation not an election. Well this is a republic and we don't do coronations. The Irish people will decide."

In a speech which concentrated on the "fairness" of economic recovery, he said the Government had "delayed the recovery and made it more unfair" and "refused to tackle any problem until it became a crisis". He said: "In emergency departments, in waiting lists, burglaries, rural crime, response to floods, housing, homelessness, disability services, special education, serious drug abuse and in many other areas, they have failed.

"And they have also delivered a massive rise in inequality. This didn't happen by chance, it was their choice.

"Every time a new bill arrived in your home it was because of their policy to shift how government is funded. Their 45 new taxes and charges ignored the basic principle of ability to pay.

"They had five budgets and all five - all five - gave priority to the wealthiest. Even Labour admits that Fine Gael wanted to help the wealthiest most.

"And now they want to go much, much further. The billions upon billions in tax cuts promised in daily headlines fit into their aim of reducing taxes to the level of the United States."

This, he said, would mean tax increases for lower and average income families and huge tax cuts for the top few per cent of earners. It would means hikes in charges and taxes on water, property, prescriptions, education and other basic items. "But even more seriously, it means a major and permanent cut in public services," he said.

"Less for pensions, for schools, for hospitals, for fighting crime, for supporting new business and for every other public service. That's Fine Gael's way. A harsher, a more unequal, unfair, unjust Ireland. Fianna Fail will never stop fighting this."

Mr Martin detailed what Fianna Fail intended to make election issues: "decent jobs", small and medium sized enterprises, agriculture, "families under immense pressure", public services, the elderly, communities; home ownership and homelessness, the Irish language and the North.

He said no area "demonstrated so completely the chaos this Government" was bringing to public services than health. "After five years they are desperately trying to cover up the scale of their failure. Their Dutch model of funding has fallen apart. Waiting lists are climbing. The emergency department crisis continues to get worse. This year the budget for hospitals is already €100m short for essential services. And now Enda Kenny has said promises on tax cuts for the wealthiest come before solving the trolley crisis."

He promised Fianna Fail would "stop the privatisation agenda and the shifting of extra costs onto vulnerable patients."

Sunday Independent

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