Irish Republican News · October 8, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Greens reach out as budget crunch looms

The Green Party has suggested the formation of a national unity government and is seeking to establish an all-party forum to discuss the economic crisis.

As the coalition continues to reel at what Green leader John Gormley described as the ‘grave’ scale of the economic problems facing the 26 County state, pressure has mounted for radically new political leadership in Dublin.

A four-year “super-budget” is currently being planned by the Fianna Fail/Green Party government to sharply reduce the budget deficit by 2014.

Details remain unclear, but it has been strongly rumoured that the unemployed and working poor will be targeted for savage new cuts, charges and taxes. Government and EU officials have expressed fears that the resulting public demonstrations and disorder could oust the current regime and install a left-wing government in Dublin.

Mr Gormley said he hope the parties could meet ahead of the publication in early November of the budgetary plan. The group would comprise the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance, the leaders of Fine Gael, Labour, the Green Party and Sinn Fein, along with their respective finance spokespeople. Department of Finance officials would, he said, brief the group, explain the basis for their figures and projections and ask for their consent.

Mr Gormley said “the market” was concerned by the lack of political unity, following comments on the crisis by the powerful Fitch ratings agency. Fitch continues to raise the risk rating it maintains on the 26 County state’s debt.

“I think the situation is now so grave that it’s absolutely incumbent on all of the political parties, despite their political differences, to come together,” said Mr Gormley. He was also interested in a national government “going forward”, but not in the short term, he said.

Fianna Fail’s Social Protection Minister Eamon O’Cuiv said the parliament in Dublin was the only appropriate place to convene the cross-party forum called for by Gormley.

Fine Gael this [Friday] morning dismissed the proposal as a kite-flying exercise to remind the electorate that the Greens “still exist”. Labour’s Ruairi Quinn calling it “the cry of a drowning man”.

Sinn Fein Social Protection spokesperson Aengus O Snodaigh TD said his party would not be part of a consensus for “savage cuts, further deflation and unemployment”.

He said the Green Party was looking for “a group hug with the other political parties in order to ease their consciences as they prop up Fianna Fail and their disastrous economic policies.

“Sinn Fein will not be part of a consensus based on this Government’s economic strategy which has done so much damage already and is set to do much more. We will not follow Fine Gael and the Labour Party who have already weighed in behind the Government’s deficit reduction target of 3% by 2014.

“The last such ‘consensus’ we had was when Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens joined together to support the second Lisbon Treaty referendum, asking people to ‘Vote Yes for Jobs’. Where are the jobs?

“Sinn Fein recognises that the deficit caused by the disastrous policies of the Government has to be reduced. But the plan to reduce it by 2014 by imposing savage cuts will be hugely damaging. It will deflate the economy, increase unemployment and worsen the recession.

“This plan will cause huge hardship by cutting vital public services and social supports - health, education and social welfare. We are against cuts to public services and social supports but for eliminating wasteful public spending where it exists.

“We need a different strategy and a longer timeframe. We want a realistic deficit reduction strategy based on a fairer tax system, investing in jobs and eliminating wasteful public spending.

“The first step to real change is a General Election to let the people decide and it should be held sooner rather than later.”

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