Labour at heart of this recovery
Speaking at the launch of the Labour Party General Election Campaign
‘Brilliant and balanced’
Not my words – those of the European Commissioner.
Describing an economy that six years ago Fianna Fáil drove off the cliff.
And the Commissioner is right. It is a remarkable turnaround.
And we should be unapologetic about it. When we entered office the national deficit stood at 32% of GDP. Last year it was 1.5%
The National Debt peaked at over 120%. This year it will fall to just over 90% or around the European Average.
The Fianna Fáil Government was forced to seek troika assistance when interest rates charged on our bond yields exceeded 10%. This week they were less than 1%.
Labour has been at the heart of this recovery. And we are particularly proud of one statistic. The near halving of unemployment.
We should be proud of this achievement.
Proclaim it on the doorsteps. We stood up to the plate and did the job when it needed to be done.
We are the true patriots. Labour doesn’t wait anymore, Labour does the business.
But a successful economy is not an end in itself. The purpose of a successful economy, is to serve a society. To improve people’s lives.
And that’s the next phase of this recovery. The social recovery.
Our economic recovery is robust. The sky is not about to fall down. Growth targets for 2015 and 2016 already exceeded. Actual tax returns running billions ahead of schedule.
We’ve fixed the banks. They no longer pose a systemic threat to the economy. Of course the global economy poses challenges to our level of growth.
But the Irish people know to their cost know they’ve much more to fear from Fianna Fail than anything else.
The party that once apologised for its role in the economy now wants us to forget it. We won’t.
Personally, I’m in politics long enough to remember the last time they inflicted carnage on the Irish people in the 70s and 80s. They are serial offenders. They cannot be let back.
Over the next three weeks Labour will set out our stall. We will argue for measures that will improve people’s quality of life. These aren’t bribes, they aren’t even promises.
They are what we would like to deliver on top of what we’ve already done.
Are people really saying that pensions and social welfare recipients don’t deserve increases after doing without for years?
As earnings in both the public sector and private sector recover? The fiscal council are right about that. Not about whether these should be automatically provided for. In a democracy Government’s make decisions. But these are decisions the next Government should unapologetically take.
There are some people out there whose fear of the past will crowd out hope for the future. We need to be prudent but we need to be pragmatic too.
Look at how prudent we are already being. This year I believe, we will balance the budget. We nearly did it last year. No borrowing. I repeat. No borrowing.
So we should not hide under our beds.
Our people put their shoulder to the wheel when they were asked to.
They deserve to share the fruits of recovery.
A sensible and sustainable recovery
The best way to deal with our debt is to keep the economy growing.
The best way to remain competitive is to improve productivity – not destroy it like Fianna Fáil did.
And that is what Labour intends to deliver.