3rd June 2003
PDs set agenda for right-wing Government - Ó Caoláin
Commenting on the Government's Progress Report, Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the PDs and Fianna Fáil were too long in office and had become like the Tories in Britain after successive terms in power. He said the PDs were setting the right-wing agenda of the Coalition.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
``The Government claims in this document that the people gave it a mandate `not for what we have done' but `for what we had yet to do'. The reality is that the PDs and Fianna Fáil secured their mandate for what they promised to do - and those promises have been broken.
``The Government cannot disguise the broken pledges and flawed policy decisions of the past year. They claim this is a one-year audit of a five-year programme. They would like us to forget they have been in office not for one year but for six.
``This government has been in power for too long. They began as the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats coalition but they rapidly evolved into the PD/FF government with the PDs as the dominant element.
``They have become like the Tories in Britain after repeated terms in power. In their case it was the hard right led by Norman Tebbitt who set the agenda. In the case of this Government the agenda is set by the Progressive Democrats clique with Michael McDowell as the standard-bearer of the Right in Irish politics.
``While the PDs dominate, the Taoiseach dithers.
``The Taoiseach's lack of clear and resolute leadership is shown in the ongoing battle between the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Health and Children on the health services. Fundamental reform of the health services is needed and in six years in office this Government has failed to even recognise that fact. Instead they made promises they knew they could not keep, including the notorious pledges to end hospital waiting lists in two years and extend the medical card to a further 200,000 people. Meanwhile the crisis in our hospitals has steadily worsened since the PD/FF return to office a year ago and Health Boards are being forced to cut vital services.
``The ideological and policy direction of this Government is set by the PDs.
``Fianna Fáil was once a party with a commitment to
- the central role of the State sector in the economy
- the provision of social housing
- Irish neutrality.
``Those values have been shredded by the PDs and their allies in the right wing of the Fianna Fáil leadership, chief among them Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy. We now have:
- ideologically-driven privatisation
- housing provision totally reliant on the developers' drive for profit regardless of social need
- the destruction of Irish neutrality.
``The right-wing agenda of this Government, largely set by the PDs, has widened the gap between rich and poor in Irish society.
``No amount of reports or PR spin can fool the people who have been betrayed by this Government. The focus of Sinn Fein in the next 12 months will be to build the real alternative to the failed polices of this PD/FF Coalition.''
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