Belfast Telegraph

Fine Gael criticises Fianna Fail demands for 4.35 billion spending in six months

‘The old adage certainly rings true – a leopard can’t change its spots,’ he said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Michelle Devane/PA)
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Michelle Devane/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Fine Gael has criticised Fianna Fail for demanding 4.35 billion euro worth of spending in six months.

Deputy Peter Burke, a chartered accountant, compiled a report of the spending demands made by his political rivals over a six-month period, saying that Fianna Fail’s “ongoing reckless spending demands of taxpayers’ funds is solid proof Micheal Martin’s party has not learnt a single lesson”.

“The old adage certainly rings true – a leopard can’t change its spots,” he said.

“In the first six months of this year, Fianna Fail have recklessly called for 4.35 billion euro in spending before the Budget, with no consideration as to how to pay for it.

“What is even more worrying, is this is a conservative figure as costings cannot be provided for all of their spending calls.

“Fianna Fail don’t even know collectively what they want – it is unrealistic and unfair on the taxpayer. The only way to meet Micheal Martin’s party’s demands would be to increase taxes or borrow.

“Their attitude of ‘when we have it, we spend it’ or indeed ‘when we don’t have it, we’ll spend it anyway’ hasn’t gone away.”

This is the second statement of its kind by Mr Byrne, who also criticised his political rivals in January for their spending calls in 2018.

Some of the spending called for by Fianna Fail recorded in the report are policies like 50,000 new homes by 2024, providing an extra 100 million euro for higher education and ending pay inequality for new teachers.

“The real problem should Fianna Fail get their hands on the country’s tiller, is there is no coherent strategy from Micheal Martin when it comes to economic management,” Deputy Byrne added.

“‘Call for whatever ye like lads’ is the message from the top down – no matter what choppy waters may be ahead.

“In recent weeks alone, Fianna Fail representatives have called for increased spending in health, transport, welfare payments and third level institutions.

“While all are worthy recipients for investment, Fianna Fail have not produced a shred of information as to how this investment would be funded. This does not paint a picture of a party who understands how to govern.

“Last year, we saw Fianna Fail make spending demands of 3.5 billion euro. Their spendthrift mindset has not only continued, it has accelerated in 2019.

“Can Fianna Fail representatives tell us what areas of public expenditure should be reduced to finance this lavish spend? Or maybe they’d introduce another USC to plug the black hole like they did in 2010.”

Mr Byrne’s report comes as both parties commit to passing a fourth and final budget under their Confidence and Supply Arrangement before the much anticipated general election later this year or early 2020.

Fianna Fail has been regularly criticising the government over spending over the last year, with issues like the overrun in the National Children’s Hospital and the cost of the much maligned national broadband plan often used as fodder for political disputes between the two.

PA

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