Stability & Budgetary Process – Dail Debate

December 1st, 2010 - Pat Breen

I welcome the opportunity to speak during tonight’s debate. I begin by commenting on today’s marginal decrease in the live register figures. Deputy O’Rourke welcomed the figures. In my view, she is completely out of touch with the reality of the situation for the unemployed. I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, will take no solace from the fact either that the queues are growing at the departure gates of our airports as young people leave this country in search of work. I can give an example which will be relevant to every county.

Clare GAA recently carried out a survey which reveals the crisis in our county and I am sure it is the same in other counties. One day recently, 17 young men from north Clare boarded aeroplanes at Shannon Airport in search of work abroad. More than 200 young players were forced to leave the clubs in County Clare during the last recession. My next-door neighbour, a friend of my son’s, along with seven other young people, left Dublin Airport the other night for Australia because he was forced out of the country.

He is a member of the Clare football panel. Entire communities are being wiped out. Naomh Eoin is a club in the west Clare peninsula and it lost 11 young men. Coolmeen, another club near my home, lost ten players. The majority of these players are leaving this country because they have no work. If this brain drain continues, we will face a very serious problem in the future. The arrival of the IMF was the last straw for many young people because they feel betrayed. They have a right to be angry and to feel let down.

I will remind the Minister of State about his own 2007 Fianna Fáil manifesto which promised that Fianna Fáil, “ will operate a responsible fiscal policy characterised by broad budget balance and a declining debt burden.” That is what I call fiction. We have had ten years of incompetent governance that has brought us to this defining moment for the nation. The decisions we are to take now are extremely important and will determine whether our country will sink or swim.
Other than Iceland, no other country has suffered a banking crisis as bad as ours during this recession. Every attempt by the Government to address the crisis has created an even blacker hole in the economy. The four year plan is the latest attempt and the Government has got it wrong again. It refers to an interest rate growth of 1.7% next year but this prediction has already been rubbished by the European Commission which estimates that the growth rate will be 1% next year. The four year plan will be wrong if we do not have a growth rate. A host of new taxes will be imposed on hard-pressed taxpayers next year but there is no jobs stimulus package nor any plan to get the country back to work. There is a concern that the Government’s slash and burn policies will see Ireland follow Greece with drastic spending cuts being inflicted but with the country struggling to raise income tax as economic activity dwindles.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, yesterday stated that being in Government is like being in an asylum. This tells us that the Government has thrown in the towel. While I support Deputy Noonan’s motion I do not believe this Government, which is on its last legs, has the budgetary policies to deal with the serious situation we will face over the next four years.
The country’s first Minister for Finance, Michael Collins, said: “Give us our future, we have had enough of your past. Give us back our country to live in, to grow in and to love.” All of us in the Fine Gael Party look up to Michael Collins. It is time for this Government to give us back our country. The election of a new Government is the only way to provide hope, inspiration and certainty. The sooner a general election is held, the better.