The 26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen has attacked Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty as election campaigning heated up in Donegal.
Cowen ironically blasted Sinn Fein’s economic policies as he said the country “wouldn’t have the money” for social welfare payments if Sinn Fein was in power.
“I am not in the business of negative politics but I do have to set out the position. On the Sinn Fein side, Pearse Doherty is out there saying: ‘Vote for me and save my pension’ sort of thing,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is Sinn Fein has an economic policy position which does not accept that we have to get down to 3pc by 2014, which is an obligation we have as members of the euro area.
“If people like that had the responsibility of Government today and took that approach, we wouldn’t be funded. It’s difficult enough, as you can see, getting back into the market doing the responsible thing.
“How likely are you going to get back into the market, doing what I would regard as an irresponsible thing, which is to suggest you can go on as before?”
Senator Doherty, reacting, said he would not take lectures from a Taoiseach who has brought the state to the brink of economic ruin and put thousands of Donegal people on the dole queue.
Senator Doherty said Sinn Féin has put forward a clear and achievable alternative that seeks to protect the less well off in this current economic climate.
“Brian Cowen is clearly afraid of the Sinn Féin challenge in this by-election and is coming out fighting. I welcome that engagement but I will not take lectures from a Taoiseach that has led the state to the brink of economic ruin. Brian Cowen’s policies have led directly to job losses in Donegal with more than 21,000 people currently unemployed in this county.
“In our pre-budget submission Sinn Féin has put forward a clear and achievable alternative that seeks to tax high earners to protect the less well off in this current economic climate...
“Brian Cowen wants to target the least well off to pay for his incompetence while the wealthy continue to avail of lucrative tax loopholes.
“If elected by the people of Donegal South West in this by-election I can help bring an end to this Government and its disastrous economic policies.”
Meanwhile, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has condemned Cowen for organising the Donegal South West by-election to take place on a Thursday (November 27th).
The fact that the election date falls on a weekday will exclude many people from being able to vote.
USI President, Gary Redmond, said: “It is physically impossible for students and other people to get home from work and college in good time to vote.
“There is only a 48 hour window after an election is called for students to register for a postal vote – this is too short and requires an immediate change in legislation.
“Schools and other public buildings will also have to close on Thursday causing huge disruption to the general public.
“Large numbers of students planned to vote to show their concern at registration fee, grants and graduate unemployment and this is impossible for them to do midweek. All elections should be held on Saturday as is common across the rest of the continent.”