Fine Gael TD for Wicklow/East Carlow and Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Simon Harris has highlighted the hypocrisy of Micheál Martin’s efforts to position himself and his party as champions for fairness and equality.
“There is a massive disconnect between the fairness and equality that has now become the Fianna Fáil mantra and the misery they inflicted on Irish people when they were last in government. Micheál Martin is keen to re-invent himself as a standard bearer for social justice issues. The hypocrisy of this will not be lost on the millions of Irish people who suffered greatly as a direct result of Deputy Martin and his Cabinet colleagues.
“Fianna Fáil’s talk of equality and fairness and its attempts to portray Fine Gael as uncaring are fatally undermined by the facts.
“Fianna Fáil in government:
• destroyed 300,000 jobs leading to hardship and mass emigration,
• slashed the national minimum wage and job seekers allowance
• introduced and raised the hated USC
• left us with a €18 billion deficit and slashed budgets for public services
• When he was last at the Cabinet table, Michéal Martin signed off on cutting the Carer’s Allowance – twice; the Disability Allowance – twice; the Blind Pension – twice; the Widow’s Pension – twice and the Invalidity Pension – twice.
“Fine Gael in government has:
• Taken 450,000 of the lowest paid workers in the State off the USC
• Increased the minimum wage to €9.15 after Fianna Fáil’s cut it to €7.65
• Is reversing and will abolish the hated USC introduced by Fianna Fáil after if collapsed our economy
• Capped the benefits of our income tax and USC reductions on earnings over €70,000, meaning that the benefits are felt by hard pressed low and middle income workers
• Overseen the creation of 135,000 jobs which is the greatest way to reverse inequality
“Fianna Fáil’s populist and election driven economic policies and their eagerness to appeal to an elite cohort of bankers and builders drove our economy to the brink of collapse. They must think the Irish people are fools if they think they will swallow their efforts to re-invent themselves as a party of social justice.
“For all its talk of fairness, Fianna Fáil still does not have a policy on job creation, which is the greatest way of reducing inequality. Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going. We are seeing economic progress, with over 135,000 more people at work, but we cannot take for granted that stability and recovery will continue. We cannot go back to the same old Fianna Fail who wrecked the economy, have learned nothing from the past and are in denial about the pain they inflicted on the Irish public.”