[Sinn Fein]

30th March 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2003

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin speaking in support of Rún 110

The Budget presented earlier this year by Charlie McCreevy represents one of the greatest frauds and swindles ever perpetrated against an Irish electorate. During the General Election, Champagne Charlie told the people: "I can confirm that there are no significant overruns and no cutbacks whatsoever are being planned, secretly or otherwise."

It's a long way from Fianna Fáil/PD pre-election promises and the reality of a right-wing government which has incensed the Irish public after less than a year in office.

We still haven't got an explanation of how the Minister could promise no cuts in the middle of May and then a few weeks later his Department was proposing cuts of some €900 million. It could only be massive deception. 

The Fianna Fáil election manifesto, the Programme for Government, the National Development Plan and the National Health Strategy were thrown into the incinerator. Instead this government has brought us:

.        the axing of the first-time home buyers' grant

.        the reneging on the promise to extend medical card entitlement to a further 200,000 people

.        the cut in the school building programme

.        the social housing cuts

.        the shortfall in the health budget

.        the cutting of 5,000 Community Employment places.

This has followed five years of squandered opportunities in every Budget presented by this Minister for Finance. We had and still have unprecedented wealth in this economy and the Government has failed to harness that wealth in a planned way to benefit all citizens. We in Sinn Fein are developing the alternative and every year since 1997 we have presented that alternative in our pre-Budget submission to the Minister for Finance. Our policies arise from and complement the work of our activists at the coal-face of the economy, among the people who are worst affected by the cuts being imposed by this Government.

We need to campaign as a party for a new vision of the Irish economy, an economy, as the Monaghan motion says, "organised and managed for the benefit of all and not for the profit of the few".

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