Wednesday 17 January 2018

Ireland's Way or Greece's Way, Bruton warns voters

Bruton warns of economic risks but new poll hits FG

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. Photo Steve Humphreys
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. Photo Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Ireland risks going down the same route as Greece, with a loss of jobs, cuts to pensions and rising interest rates.

That's the warning from Jobs Minister Richard Bruton if a stable government is not returned.

Mr Bruton accuses the opposition of being a "motley crew of parties and independents with no clear plan and no solutions to Ireland's ongoing jobs challenge".

"The choice is Ireland's way or Greece's way," he told the Irish Independent.

"Fianna Fáil have an appalling track record on jobs - they relied wholly on the construction sector for growth and when that collapsed the rest of the economy followed. And they have learned no lessons as they have published no detailed jobs plan. Sinn Féin's policies would actively undermine the very enterprises that we want to create the new jobs. We have no idea how a collection of Independents would change the policy mix that has worked for Ireland over the last five years.

"It's a recipe for disaster. Not a disaster we have to struggle to visualise, a disaster that has already been visited on the workers and families of Greece. The type of populist wish-lists that are presented as 'plans' by opposition parties have helped destroy the Greek economy and it is the ordinary Greeks that are paying the price."

Mr Bruton warned of the substantial difference between interest rates, the gap between pensions and the difference in economic growth between Ireland and Greece.

"I'm going to argue for Ireland's way until the close of polls on the 26th," he said.

Today, the minister will launch Fine Gael's plan for job creation in the regions and export market, aimed at creating 135,000 jobs over the next five years.

"Getting the whole of Government to work together to help our enterprises grow their businesses and create jobs is a complex, constantly evolving challenge that requires disciplined attention every day. Our entrepreneurs are competing for markets and investment at a global level and every aspect of their operating environment matters. Everything matters. Everything. That is the approach we have adopted in Government over five years. It's not always glamorous, and there are no 'big-bang' solutions, but after committing to help create 100,000 extra jobs by the end of 2016 and delivering 135,000 a year ahead of schedule, we do know one thing: our plan is working and the policy mix is right," he said.

"That is why the absence of detailed plans from any of the opposition parties is so dangerously reckless. The 200,000 jobs Fine Gael are committed to are not simply going to materialise; Irish companies like Grant Engineering in Birr, EPS in Mallow and Shay Murtagh in Mullingar are going to have to win new contracts, in new countries and secure new business. To do that they need a Government that understand their needs and will work with them to assist them win the contracts that will support the new jobs."

Mr Bruton's comments came after Taoiseach Enda Kenny ramped up warnings about the consequences of the Coalition not returning to power.

"Greece is back in recession, Spain hasn't been able to form a government and there are difficulties in Portugal because they have rising interest rates," he said.


Mr Kenny claimed there was a risk of a flight of capital and jobs if Fine Gael and Labour aren't returned. Fianna Fáil, he argued, were "handed a good country in 1997 and in 10 years they had wrecked it, wrecked it, wrecked the economy".

Sinn Féin, meanwhile, had "opposed everything that will create further jobs".

The warnings were described as "completely bogus" by Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath while Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams branded them as "scare tactics".

But the latest poll puts Fine Gael on just 26pc - well below where the party needs to be the head up the next government.

A senior Fine Gael source said: "This campaign stops being dull now. This is not good. We're not going to be able to elect a government."

The party will now pull ministers out of their constituencies to attempt to win back support.

The source said the drop in support would not lead to "meltdown" territory in terms of seat losses for Fine Gael.

Party strategists are now clinging to the evidence their vote is moving towards Independents and smaller parties rather than Fianna Fáil.

Irish Independent

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