Wednesday, December 7, 2011

year of missed opportunities, failed “slash and burn” policies and spineless politics

Sinn Féin in North Wexford has slammed government parties for what it calls a "year of missed opportunities, failed “slash and burn” policies and spineless politics."

"Fine Gael and Labour lied their way into government with promises of a totally new direction. They have broken nearly all of these promises in education and many other areas," according to North Wexford Sinn Féin Spokesperson, Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin.

"Schools in the Gorey area have already lost teachers. Increasing the pupil-teacher ratio will mean further job losses in a number of local schools (unions fear as many as 2,000 teaching jobs across the state) and even worse over-crowding in classrooms, which are already the second largest in Europe. Parents groups throughout Co. Wexford who have been lobbying politicians during the teacher unions Education Week are to be commended. These efforts need to intensify.

The waste of public money has been incredible - 700 million euro handed over to unguaranteed bondholders and speculators in Anglo Irish Bank last month and plans to give away a further 1.2 billion of public money to a failed bank next month. You just couldn't make it up! At the same time Labours Minister Howlin makes a half-hearted effort to tackle the pension’s scandal, which will take just €1 a day off Ray Burke and leave Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen to live off €147,000 a year, which is nothing more than a pathetic tokenistic gesture.

Meanwhile Fine Gael Senator Michael D’Arcy criticises the Croke Park Agreement last week claiming that those of us who work in the public service are “protected in a cocoon"; that there was a "national emergency" and "we have to be brave and we have to do what is right". Indeed we do! As Sinn Fein proposed in their 40-page fully costed alternative budget proposals: start by cutting politicians salaries; introduce a 48% third rate of tax on salaries in excess of 100 thousand euro; cap the wages at the top of the public service at this amount; end wasteful spending; introduce a wealth tax on assets worth more than 1 million. Stop handing over billions of public money to private speculators and unguaranteed bondholders. Take this approach and then there would be no need for cuts to education or any other public services. In fact we could then invest in education, which is fundamental to our future economic prosperity. A point that has been emphasised again and again by parents, teachers, economists and business leaders. It is obvious to ordinary people what group in Irish society live in a cocoon!

However, this government’s policy is to continue protecting the high rollers while at the same time lining up cuts to child benefit, increases in student registration fees and the failed policies of austerity which are depressing the local economy resulting in forced emigration. Two local examples starkly and shockingly illustrate their failure - 12 players off the Camolin football panel are now in Australia and almost half the Bunclody team that won the county championship just two years ago have also emigrated. According to the ESRI, emigration will increase in 2012.

So contrary to the hand-wringing from Fine Gael and Labour, little has in fact changed. It has been a year of missed opportunities, failed “slash and burn” policies and spineless politics. "

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