[Sinn Fein]

18th June 2003

Right wing agenda of Government has shredded previous commitments to State sector, social housing and Irish neutrality

Speaking during the Private Members Business debate on Public Services Sinn Fein's Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said ``The Government cannot disguise the broken pledges and flawed policy decisions of the past year.'' ``The reality is that the PDs and Fianna Fáil secured their mandate for what they promised to do ? and those promises have been broken,'' he said.

The Cavan Monaghan Deputy also accused the PDs of assuming control of the Governments ideological direction saying ``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.

Referring to the Health reform package announced by the Government today Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``Fundamental reform of the health services is needed and in six years in office this Government has failed to even recognise that fact. Today's announced so-called Health Service Reform Programme represents administrative change not fundamental reform. While new bureaucratic structures are being set up, public patients will continue to suffer and die on waiting lists, hospital beds will remain closed and 200,000 people will be left without the medical card cover promised them by the Government before the last General Election. The Fianna Fáil promise to end hospital waiting lists within two years has now been consigned to history.

``Neither the package announced today nor the National Health Strategy recognised the need to end the two-tier system, the health apartheid which ensures that private patients receive privileged access while public patients wait. The real test will come when the Hanly Report is published and the Government has to confront the disgraceful abuse of the public health system by the consultants. I see no sign that the Government is determined to do that.

``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 has widened the gap between rich and poor in Irish society. The ideological and policy direction is set by the PDs.''

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