Thursday 23 November 2017

Gilmore vague on plans to fix nation's 'biggest mess'

Aine Kerr in Roscommon

LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore last night refused to outline any tough budgetary measures he would order -- despite backing Fine Gael's claim that it could take 10 years to fix the country's problems.

If Labour gets into power, it will be confronted by the "biggest mess" any incoming government has ever inherited from its predecessors, Mr Gilmore claimed.

The Labour leader agreed that €3bn in cutbacks will have to be found in the upcoming Budget.

But he refused to specify the harsh measures his party would prescribe.

He told TDs and senators that the party cannot and will not promise that every cut can be repaid and every bad decision reversed if it gets into power.

The party will focus on the steps needed to rescue the economy at its two-day think-in in Roscommon and will outline its €3bn strategy in a pre-Budget document, Mr Gilmore said.

The two leaders' talk of needing 10 years in power to turn the country's economic problems around could leave them open to accusations of over-confidence and of being presumptuous with the electorate.

The Labour leader rejected claims by Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe that Mr Kenny needed 10 years to fix the economy because he "knows that Labour and himself haven't the bottle to take tough decisions".

Both Fine Gael and Labour have continually refused to state how they would cut a minimum of €3bn to balance the books.

But Mr Gilmore hit back last night, repeatedly claiming that Labour would "do whatever is necessary" to fix the economy, without mentioning any new, specific policy details.

"Some of the decisions and some of the consequences of what Fianna Fail has done will take 10 years or more to turn around," Mr Gilmore said.

"If you look at the cost of the banking crisis, for example, it will take 10 years or more to repay that. But we can't wait 10 years for people to get a job."

However, there is immediate work that will have to be done in the lifetime of the next Government, which can't be strung out for 10 years.

The Labour leader accepted the need for €3bn in cutbacks which have been agreed with the European Commission.

But he criticised Mr Lenihan for claiming earlier this week that a "minimum" of €3bn cuts will now be needed.

Irish Independent

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