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Social Democrats co-leader has described today’s newly formed government as a retrograde step and accused Fianna Fáil of forgoing the opportunity to break with the past and choosing instead to maintain the old guard of Irish politics.  She said people had voted for permanent change and certainly didn’t expect to find themselves with a grand coalition of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. She wished the Green Party well but said she was concerned about their ability to achieve much in an administration presided over by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

During her speech following the announcement of the new cabinet she said:

“People voted for permanent change, for a genuine social contract where people pay taxes according to their means and in return have access to universal public services and where government works for the common good. But that was never the Fine Gael way. Fine Gael operates on the basis that the market is king and that if you can’t afford to pay for services, services that are available as of right in most other European countries, then it’s tough luck and you don’t get access to essential services. That is one of the reasons why, when Fine Gael approached the Social Democrats with a view to coalition, we knew that they were not going to change their spots. It was clear that while Fine Gael talked the talk of inclusion and public services, there was no financial underpinning at all to the aspirations.

“In the Programme for Government we once again see a continued reliance on developers for affordable housing and another 18 months of free reign and poor planning standards with Strategic Housing Developments. There’s lip-service to supposedly accelerating Slaintecare but without any budget until at least 2022 and continuing to divert funding away from public health through the NTPF. There’s no indication of a public model of childcare, no reform of corporation tax or other taxes, and on and on. This lack of any real funding commitment to change runs right through the Programme for Government.  It is clear that following the immediate crisis, the intention is to get back to business as usual.

“Fianna Fail, on the other hand, had choices about where it would go. They knew very well that the market-led politics of Fine Gael, which they supported for the past four years, had done the country, and both parties much damage. Yet when they had the opportunity to make a break with the past, to shift to the left and lead a genuine social democratic government that people voted for, they eschewed that opportunity and instead locked themselves into Fine Gael. That is a very retrograde step for the country.

“I genuinely hope that the Green Party is successful in furthering the Climate Change and Biodiversity agenda, but I have to express concern about that being possible to achieve, within the prevailing agenda of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The lack of any commitment to a reducing carbon emissions in the context of the national herd is reflective of this challenge.”

 27th June 2020

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