[Sinn Fein]

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

``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:

``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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