IRSP Respond to Enda Kenny

Sligo IRSP respond to a letter by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to the Sligo Weekender.

Source: Sligo Weekender, Tuesday, November 9th, 2010. ‘Kenny’s letter fails to stand up to scrutiny’.

Much has been said and written about the current Fianna Fáil – Green Party coalition government, which has rightly been castigated in most quarters as an unmitigated disaster. We are now preparing for another draconian budget from this adminstration, and in the face of the bluster and populist rhetoric that will no doubt flow from the opposition benches upon its release, it seems imperative that we place these parties under a similar degree of scrutiny and assessment. After all, Enda Kenny and Fine Gael could well be leading the next government.

So the question is, do Fine Gael represent a credible alternative?

In his letter to the Sligo Weekender on October 26th, Enda Kenny brazenly claims that party colleague Richard Bruton “..correctly identified everything the Government was doing wrong, in economic terms.” This claim does not stand up to much scrutiny. For example, it is beyond question that the property bubble played a major role in the severity of the economic crisis in Ireland. In 2007 at the height of the bubble, Fine Gael and Labour released their economic plan entitled “Protecting the Progress: An Agreed Agenda on Tax and Jobs”. In this document Fine Gael proposed the complete abolition of Stamp Duty for first-time buyers up to €450,000 and up to €100,000 for other buyers. In effect, while Stamp Duty should have acted as a resource for the state and as a barrier against rising levels of speculation, Fine Gael policy would have served to encourage it and further exacerbate the dire property situation Ireland was in.

In his letter, Deputy Kenny also pushes Fine Gael’s “NewEra” document, claiming it would create over 100,000 jobs. Current finance spokesperson for Fine Gael is Michael Noonan. When asked in July of this year about the NewEra plan creating that number of jobs, Noonan responded by saying: “Quite frankly, I don’t believe it would”, before suggesting the figure was owed to a PR exercise(Irish Times, July 15th). Speaking on Morning Ireland on Wednesday 27th, the very day after Enda Kenny’s letter to the Sligo Weekender, Noonan described the NewEra plan as “a bit dated”.

In truth, leaving this ridiculous level of political incoherence aside, neither Fianna Fáil, Labour, or Fine Gael have any credibility with regard to job creation generally. Those ‘Yes to Lisbon, Yes to Jobs’ posters are still fresh in the memory.

And what have Fine Gael planned for those who are lucky enough to have a job? Well we now know what their representative for Dublin South-East, Lucinda Creighton wants. Speaking recently in a Dáil debate, Creighton called for an immediate review and reduction in the minimum wage. Such sentiments should be treated with contempt; in no way should the most vulnerable people in society pick up the bill for this economic crisis, something they had no hand in creating. Such a measure will also act as a pretext for an onslaught on social welfare payments, to keep a gap between the dole and minimum wage.

All this must be the “New Politics” Fine Gael is referring to. Fine Gael represent no alternative. They, like all the other mainstream parties, represent more of the same. What we have seen in Ireland is the systemic flaws inherent to capitalism and thus it is at this level that anyone who is genuine about providing an alternative must begin their work. We have got to move away from a system where private financial institutions dictate policy and can hold the whole nation to ransom, effectively robbing it. James Connolly once said that “all systems of political administration or governmental machinery are but the reflex of the economic forms which underlie them.” Until the economic system in Ireland is changed, any other alterations will be cosmetic. No matter how Fine Gael or any other mainstream party tries to rebrand itself, with slogans of “New Politics” or whatever it may be, while this economic system remains in place, the Irish people will remain caught up in the boom and bust cycle inherent to it. And worse, like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael propose, they will be left picking up the bill for it.

Ross McNamee
Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP)

Sligo Weekender, November 9th, 2010.