Wednesday 21 March 2018

Creighton warns of extremism as 'middle' left behind

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

JOHN DRENNAN Political Editor

ORDINARY working and middle-class people are feeling they have been abandoned by the political establishment, Rebel Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton told the Sunday Independent.

Creighton, the putative leader of a new political movement, claims the gap between the established political parties and the people is accelerating at an alarming rate. To date Creighton, who is still a member of Fine Gael, has not committed herself to the setting up of a new political party.

But speculation is intensifying about the establishment of a new party and Reform Alliance sources are saying it would have to be set up next year to work.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent, Creighton said the political system was "failing to respond to the great crisis afflicting working and middle-class families".

And she added: "If this continues to be the case, then no more than Europe, Ireland is not immune to the rise of extremist forces."

The former European affairs minister noted that in particular, significant elements of Fine Gael's core vote were feeling abandoned by what she described as "a disturbing trend where politics appears to be distancing itself from the lives and needs of middle Ireland".

In the wake of a further raft of taxes and charges, she warned that the coping classes were "finding it impossible" to get by.

"What I hear from everywhere is that the coping classes are now being squeezed beyond sustainability.

"I don't believe the Government is deliberately leaving people behind but it does appear the concerns of middle Ireland are being forgotten," she said.

"Increasingly middle-class and working people who are not wealthy, who live prudent lives, who might once have aspired to own shares, the sort of citizens who want to pay for their own health insurance, are finding it impossible to cope," she added.

The Reform Alliance TD said the death of "aspiration and hope" for the coping classes across Ireland and Europe was "the defining challenge for politics".

"The vast gap opening up between the Ireland as our politicians see it and what the people are experiencing is exemplified by the loading by Minister Reilly of ever increasing costs on to health insurance," she said.

"Health Insurance continues to be something the vast majority of working people have, but will this continue to be the case?

"A quarter of a million people have left health insurance since 2008 and that process shows no sign of slowing down."

The Reform Alliance TD also contrasted the difference between those in the coping classes who feel their interests are not being represented and union demands for pay hikes.

"The Troika are barely gone and Jack O'Connor is already saying he will be demanding massive hikes for his members.

"Small and medium enterprises, which constitute Fine Gael's core vote, feel abandoned by Government, all they see are new impositions such as the doubling of PRSI for employers, another tax on employment," she said.

Creighton was also sharply critical of the ongoing "apparent protection of lobby groups and vested interests" in areas such as the law.

"One of the conditions of the bailout was the reform of the legal profession, yet three years later the Troika are gone and the profession still has not been reformed," she said.

Creighton said this was just one example of how the country had "still not unravelled the consequences of the politics of Bertie crossed with Berlusconi".

"The fear must be that, with less monitoring by the Troika, the impulse to reform areas like medicine and the law will only weaken," she said.

The Reform Alliance TD also warned: "Where politics fails in its responsibility to ensure we have a society which respects those who work hard, a vacuum emerges and extremism rises. This is already evident in polls across Europe where extremes of the left and the right, one as frightening as the other, are rising.

"We need to realise the rise of Sinn Fein will not save us from the consequences of the politics of the past."

Creighton did not comment on the likelihood of a new party being set up before the local and European elections.

However, senior Reform Alliance sources have conceded the time frame for the establishment of a new party is narrowing.

"If a new party is to work it will have to be established between the summer and the back end of next year," a senior figure told the Sunday Independent.

However, those who wish to establish such a party are reluctant to move until after the local elections.

"Putting a new party in place before the elections would be as good an idea as the American invasion of Afghanistan," a source said.

Sunday Independent

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