Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.45 15 Apr 2020


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Opposition parties are reacting to a new government framework document from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

The policy document for a coalition pledges not to increase income tax or cut social welfare during the coming recession.

It has has been circulated to the TDs and Senators of both parties for approval.

In an opening segment it says “we are at an unprecedented moment in the history of our State” and notes that “we know that there is no going back to the old way of doing things.”

“As we face these challenges, Ireland will again have a significant budget deficit,” it reads.

“The essential step in repairing this will be returning our citizens back to work. All decisions with regard to our national finances must be fair and sustainable.”

But newly-elected Labour Party leader Alan Kelly says: "It is clear from first reading that this is an un-costed, purely aspirational document, that will require detailed scrutiny.

"It fails to mention any concrete timelines or when any of the mooted ideas would be delivered.

"I welcome that in both parties coming together to draft this document, that they have come around to a different way of thinking on a new social contract and other social democratic policies.

"The Labour Parliamentary Party will appraise this document over the coming days."

While People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett says: "A return to power of Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil is the last thing the country needs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis”.

He claims both these parties have "run down the capacity of the health service to dangerously low levels" and failed to dismantle the "two tier, semi-privatised" health system.

He also hit out at the low level of ICU capacity, poor staffing levels in the health service, shortages of PPE and slowness in ramping up testing levels.

"I urge parties and independents of the left not to go down the well worn path of supporting a Fine Gael /Fianna Fail government.

"Now more than ever, in the midst of this unprecedented crisis, we need a fundamental and radical reordering of the priorities of our society which put human need and our environment before profit", Deputy Barrett adds.

Non-political reaction

Non-political groups have also been weighing in.

Hotel and guesthouse owners have welcomed proposals for the development of sector-specific responses for tourism and hospitality.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) says: "Over the past few weeks, the industry has been decimated due to the COVID-19 crisis with over 85% of hotels closed and the majority of the 260,000 employees laid off or on short-time."

IHF president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane says that tourism and hospitality will need the right supports to play a significant role in re-building the Irish economy.

"Tourism supports 11% of total employment nationally, 70% of these jobs are outside of Dublin which highlights the regional contribution of tourism and its vital role in spreading employment opportunities and prosperity across the entire country.

"It is essential that our industry remains to the fore of the national economic agenda."

While Alone - the organisation which supports older people - welcomes the sentiment in the document, it says it is seeking "further commitment" on key areas pertinent to older people.

The organisation notes the strong elements on social justice, but wants to see a stronger commitment to the National Positive Ageing Strategy, more commitment to housing with supports for older people and to expedite the actions outlined in Sláintecare.

The group says: "Alone believe that the needs of older people must play a central role for this Government and in the years to come.

"While Alone welcomes both parties’ intention referenced in the framework to 'work with all stakeholders to ensure that every citizen has a dignified retirement and can retire in financial security', the organisation has called on parties to clarify what their idea of a dignified retirement looks like and commit to making this a reality for all older people.

"Alone believe that this aim must be defined in line with the aims of National Positive Ageing Strategy, and include a commitment to provide age-specific supports in the areas of housing, finance, loneliness, health and home supports."

The organisation says it was "disappointed" to find no mention of increased support for the home support service or nursing homes.

Main image: Labour TD Alan Kelly speaking at the Clayton Airport Hotel. Photo by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie


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Alan Kelly Coalition Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Government Document Government Framework Labour Party People Before Profit Reaction Richard Boyd Barrett

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