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'Some huge omissions' - Mary Lou McDonald criticises programme for government

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Opposition: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. PHOTO: GARETH CHANEY/COLLINS

Opposition: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. PHOTO: GARETH CHANEY/COLLINS

Opposition: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. PHOTO: GARETH CHANEY/COLLINS

Mary Lou McDonald has criticised the programme for the incoming government, saying there are "some huge omissions" and claiming that some of the language in the report was stolen from Sinn Féin.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party published their Programme for Government yesterday, which will see a Mícheál Martin become rotating Taoiseach until December 2022.

However Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said that the programme, the role of which is to monitor the implementation of the Government's commitments, is not far-reaching enough.

"It's very short on detail, it's very light on specifics, on numbers, on targets, on delivery and there is some extraordinary omissions," Ms McDonald said on BBC Good Morning Ulster this morning.

"There is no firm commitment to reduce class size even though we have amongst the highest pupil/teacher ratios across the continent. There is no specific commitment in terms of increasing capacity in our health system, specifically in terms of hospital beds and all of this at a time when our public services are under very significant pressure.

"And indeed the coronavirus emergency very cruelly exposed the dangers of having over-crowded classrooms and insignificant capacity in your health service. I am offering those two examples, I could give many, many more."

Ms McDonald claimed that some of what is written in the report was stolen from Sinn Féin.

"It's very long the programme for government, and there is a lot of rhetoric in it," she said.

"I actually I recognise some of the language as as our own. I think it's nothing new that they would steal our clothes. They are regular stealers of clothes, they've taken many a political idea."

"It's essentially a recipe for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to coalesce together, to bring the Greens into government and to ensure that above all else for the two old parties to keep Sinn Féin out.

"Not just Sinn Féin as a party but that huge mandate and appetite that was so evident in February for change for a new government for new politics, and that appetite is still there, but nobody should be surprised that the political establishment have banded together."

The programme, for a historic government between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, includes the abolition of the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers, a pledge to ban the sale of new and the importation of second-hand petrol and diesel cars from 2030 as well as a large increase on cycling infrastructure.

The issue of housing was one of the key issues which saw Sinn Féin become the country's most popular party at the time of the general election in March.

Ms McDonald said that the three parties heading into Government are not equipped to solve the crisis.

While there is a pledge to increase the stock of social housing by 50,000 over the next five years, the Sinn Féin leader said that this commitment was one already in place by the outgoing Government led by Leo Varadkar and fine Gael.

"This is about delivery. The issue of housing was at the heart of the political debate because we have a housing crisis," she said.

"Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil created this housing crisis . They have no track record in any commitment to affordability in housing or to providing social housing or to really getting to grips with the whole necessity for public housing and rent control.

"That is precisely the preexisting commitment from the national development plan, so there's no new thinking, there's no ambition, there's very little for renters except a commitment to study a study from the ESRI - it's hugely disappointing."

Online Editors


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