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The promises and the reality after Enda's first 100 days

When Brian Cowen completed his first 100 days as Taoiseach, then Opposition leader Enda Kenny launched a blistering attack on his stewardship. Mr Kenny said: "As Brian Cowen marks his first 100 days as Taoiseach, his tenure has been a failure with no leadership vision and no indication he knows how to solve Ireland's economic crisis."

Now as Enda Kenny reaches the same 100-day milestone himself, how has this Taoiseach and his Fine Gael/Labour administration fared? Here's what they promised and here's what has been delivered in those first crucial 14 weeks in office.


Before the election, and in the first weeks of Government, Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore both vowed to renegotiate the multi-billion euro bailout.

We have so far failed to win a reduction in the interest rate on our bailout loans. Ireland has already drawn down €15.6bn of EU bailout funds at the current interest rate of 5.8 per cent and any reduction will only apply to the €24.6bn due to be drawn down from October/November on.


On February 7, Enda Kenny said in a radio interview: "The politics of cronyism of the past 13 years must be brought to an end."

Last week it was revealed that 25 of the 166 TDs in the Dail have hired relatives to carry out administrative and other duties.

Among them are junior ministers Ciaran Cannon and Shane McEntee, both Fine Gael. Junior Enterprise Minister Sean Sherlock and Junior Environment Minister Willie Penrose, both Labour, also have family members working for them as assistants.


In February, Enda Kenny said his party would cut 30,000 public sector jobs without forced redundancies or cuts in frontline services. Fine Gael said 12,000 of the job cuts would come from "natural wastage," with the other 18,000 achieved on a voluntary basis.

No meaningful cuts in the number of public service jobs have taken place so far but there have been cuts in frontline services, particularly in health.

An example: the Health Service Executive planned to cut funding to a rape crisis network which would have forced it to close, though that particular proposal has been postponed pending a review.


In February, Fine Gael announced its plan for jobs with a €7bn investment package to cut dole queues and stem emigration. Labour leader Eamon Gilmore promised his party would create 200,000 new jobs.

Last week, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported that the unemployment rate rose to 14.8 per cent last month while 40 per cent of claimants have been signing on for more than one year.

In May 2011, there were 440,947 people signing on the Live Register, representing an increase of 3,025 over the year.

The promised jobs initiative has been announced. It includes: halving of employers' PRSI for low-paid workers below €356 a week which will affect 600,000 workers; €60m for regional roadworks and €30m for school building and improvements as well as an internship scheme and a new loan scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises.


In February, Enda Kenny vowed to shut down toxic Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

Irish Nationwide closed the last of its branches on May 17. Irish Nationwide will be merged with Anglo Irish Bank over the next two months and wound down over 10 years.


In February, both Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore vowed that rogue bankers would be brought to justice. Both Government parties promised new laws to tackle rogue bankers and extra powers for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB)

Last week it emerged that investigations into the Anglo Irish Bank scandal were being hampered by more than 10 reluctant witnesses who include former banking executives.

Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby revealed he would be forced to plead for more time because of the delays and complexities involved, despite a High Court-ordered deadline to wrap up the two-and-half-year probe by next month.


Before he became Taoiseach, Enda Kenny vowed to abolish the controversial €3 travel tax.

Scrapping the tax has now been confirmed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and the Government also cut the VAT rate from 13.5 per cent to 9 per cent which should also help tourism and will apply from July 1 to December 31, 2013.

It will apply to a range of goods and services including restaurant and catering services; hotel and holiday accommodation; admissions to cinemas, theatres, certain musical performances, museums and art gallery exhibitions and fairgrounds or amusement park services.


Fine Gael and Labour both promised that there would be no change to Ireland's corporation tax of 12.5 per cent.

The Government has resolutely stuck by the pledge -- even though it is under pressure from France to increase the tax rate on companies and it looks like the determination to leave corporation tax as it stands will compromise attempts to renegotiate the terms of the bailout.


Before the election, Enda Kenny said: "Our policy is for no increase in income tax, no widening of the bands. Other parties have different views about higher taxes or more taxes."

Last week in the Dail, his Finance Minister Michael Noonan said: "I am not going to rule out any tax initiative, or any tax increase or any tax reduction."


Labour's election manifesto said the party opposed the reintroduction of third-level fees.

Last week the party's education minister Ruairi Quinn admitted that while he was personally opposed to third-level fees, the country had to face reality.

"Putting a financial barrier in front of people on the way into college for children or young adults who had no previous experience of third level has been shown to be a deterrent. That's not to say we don't have a serious financial crisis nationwide and also in the university sector, and we have to address that."


Both Fine Gael and Labour promised, pre-election, to restore the national minimum wage to €8.65 an hour. That pledge will become a reality next month.


Before the election, Eamon Gilmore accused Fine Gael of becoming the 'stealth tax' party of the election. He attacked Fine Gael's economic proposals, saying they would hit families badly.

To pay for the jobs initiative the Fine Gael/Labour government has introduced a 0.6 per cent levy on private pension funds. It's intended to raise €470m a year, payable in two tranches. It will operate for four years, and will raise €1.88bn overall.

"This is a stealth tax imposed on the savings of ordinary people by politicians and civil servants who have ensured that their own pension benefits remain gold and diamond-plated," Ciaran Phelan of the Irish Brokers' Association said.


Before the election, Fine Gael promised not to introduce water charges before meters are fitted while Labour insisted there wouldn't be water charges at all.

Last week Environment Minister Phil Hogan confirmed a "household charge" will be introduced from January 1. The new levy is separate to water charges, which the Government also intends on introducing. The Government must, under the IMF/EU deal, introduce water charges by 2013. It's unlikely that all households in the country will have meters installed by then so a 'flat rate' water charge is now considered likely to be introduced in the interim.


The car-parking levy first announced in October 2008 has been shelved which means that civil servants who enjoy the considerable perk of free car parking will not have to pay the planned €200 per annum levy.

More than €9m was spent on renting car-parking spaces for civil servants working in Dublin last year


Fine Gael promised to abolish the Upper House. The Referendum to abolish the Seanad will be held next year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail two weeks ago.


Before the election, Fine Gael made a commitment to abolish "at least 20" State agencies. Enda Kenny said 1,000 workers in the 26 bodies he wants abolished or merged could be absorbed into other agencies while still making massive savings for the taxpayer. No significant progress has been made.


Fine Gael promised car pooling for ministers. Some progress made, ministers now travel in their own cars driven by civilians. The move is expected to save €4m a year.


Both Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore promised action on Oireachtas pay. When they took office, the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and ministers did cut their own salaries.

TDs have taken a reduction in pay since the economic crisis began but they still get a salary of €92,672 per annum.

Sunday Independent