Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein 'bluffing over economy'

Sinn Fein is bluffing the electorate over its economic policies, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said.

Mr Martin said Gerry Adams's party would have to either dramatically cut public services or massively tax them if they reject the multibillion-euro bailout from the International Monetary Fund and Europe.

Sinn Fein - which is in a battle with Fianna Fail for third place in the election - on Sunday said it would agree to a referendum on the rescue deal, claiming the country could not afford it.

"I think Sinn Fein are bluffing the electorate to a certain extent, or have a kind of smoke screen over that aspect of their policy," Mr Martin said. "They keep prevaricating or they keep obfuscating when they're asked that basic question, where do you get the 50 billion to pay for public services over the next three years on a sustainable basis?"

Mr Martin was on the campaign trail in Naas and pledged to protect the state pension over the next five years if returned to power.

While Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams campaigned in Cork, the party's Social Protection spokesman Aengus O Snodaigh attacked Fianna Fail, claiming its austerity measures have targeted the lowest paid, those on social welfare and the working poor.

"They have been at the helm of an unemployment crisis and have placed more of a priority on bailing out toxic banks and bondholders than protecting the most vulnerable and creating employment," Mr O Snodaigh said.

"Social welfare payments have been drastically cut and people are struggling to cope. The poorest of the poor are being punished because of a lack of an effective job creation plan."

Mr Adams later hit back at Mr Martin, insisting Sinn Fein did not create the economic crisis.

"Sinn Fein didn't give away what remains of our sovereignty. Sinn Fein didn't put big bankers and golden circles before Irish citizens," Mr Adams said. "Sinn Fein makes no apology for saying that Irish taxpayers cannot afford the EU/IMF money. Our view on this is shared by many prominent economists including a Nobel Prize-winning economist."

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