Sunday 25 February 2018

Joan Burton wants to see 'end to austerity'

JOHN DRENNAN Political Editor

LABOUR leadership candidate Joan Burton has called for an end to the "dead hand of austerity and penitence" and an embrace of the economics of Bloom.

In an interview that will add to tensions between the coalition partners, Ms Burton said she wanted to lead "a national moving away from the politics and the economics of austerity".

She told the Sunday Independent: "Ireland has to move away from the current economic narrative of pain and penitence; we need to become a society again, not an economy. We need to build the economy from the middle out, we need a strong middle and working class; lifting the working poor out of unemployment will provide the centre ground of our recovery.

"But this cannot be done under the austerity model; that is predicated on the trickle-down effect from the wealthy – that will not work in Ireland."

In spite of the still uncertain economic outlook, the Social Protection Minister said the government parties must refocus economic policy to stimulate growth. She added: "Though it is not going to be easy, it is now possible after the groundwork of the last three years to have a Budget centred on growth.

"During the first three years of the Coalition, the pressure in Ireland was to restore us to a place where we could simply pay our debts but given the amount of heavy lifting that has been done, the potential for recovery now is significant. The greatest danger to both Europe and Ireland is an absence of growth."

The minister said a Europe-wide fiscal stimulus package was needed in the wake of the European elections, which left government parties across the continent reeling.

"There is an absolute need for a fiscal stimulus, not just in Ireland but across Europe, when you see the rise of the extremes," she added.

"For a Labour recovery to occur we have to exorcise the spirit of austerity. I was at the Bloom festival; it was fantastic, seeing the work and creativity that went into it; the spirit of Bloom is what we need to build."

Sunday Independent

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