15 February 2016

Speaking at the Launch of Standing Up for Ireland’s FutureLabour’s Election Manifesto


I’m delighted to be back here in Grangegorman.

It has a symbolism for me personally.

The project was one of those stayed in 2011 as the full implications of our recession meant we were locked out of the PPP market.

But I was impressed by the project and determined that it should proceed.

And a year later, as the economic recovery began to take hold I was delighted to be able to include phase one of the project in the first stimulus announcement made during the course of our Government to supplement the exchequer capital programme.

I have been back here since that announcement and firmly believe that this will be one of the stand out projects of this era.

It marks for me the beginning of the recovery.

This is a social democratic manifesto for a social democratic party.

It is a manifesto that will bring balance to the next Government as Labour has brought balance to the current one. It divides the resources available on a 3:1 basis – three euros of public spending for every euro of tax reductions.

It is a prudent package, compliant with the fiscal rules. Over and above tax indexing the cost of the USC reductions amount to no more than €160m or so a year.

It provides increases in pensions and child benefit.

It provides for significant investment in our education system.

For social democrats education is the silver bullet.

The means by which opportunity is conferred from one generation to the other. It provides significant investment in our health services and equally importantly a focus on delivery and accountability.

It sets a target for the achievement of free GP care.

Our economic strategy will be reviewed annually.

Compliance with the fiscal rules is an annual exercise.

As the Tánaiste has made clear Labour in Government will do nothing to endanger our path of fiscal sustainability.

We, in Labour, are under attack in this election. Under attack for standing by our country in its hour of need. Under attack from opportunists who care little for their country.

We have achieved a remarkable amount. The fastest growing economy in Europe for two years in a row; a declining debt burden; falling unemployment. It is little wonder our opponents are angry!

But our work isn’t done. The economy isn’t fixed yet. The international environment is shaky.

Our opponents made no contribution to our recovery. They opposed each move that we did. Fianna Fail left a plan behind them with more holes than a Swiss cheese.

Sinn Féin stand alone as Ireland’s austerity party. In contrast, we alongside Fine Gael, put Ireland back on track. We rebuilt our country’s global reputation. We are among the most experienced Governments in Europe. Tried and tested and ready for the challenges ahead.

So while Greece re-enters recession, while Portuguese bond yields increase and while Spain is mired in political instability Ireland can send the NTMA into the markets to borrow at less than 1%.

That’s the measure of our achievement. So let me say this to the Irish people.

Let’s not be complacent. Our job isn’t done. Yes we’ve come a long way, but now isn’t the time to take risks. Micheál Martin can’t lead a Government. Micheál is peddling a fairy story about Government. When the going got tough for the last Government he left it.

He defends that Government now – he ran away from it then. Brian Lenihan’s biggest rival then, his best friend now.

Gerry Adams doesn’t want to lead the Government. He wants to be in opposition to throw stones at the next government. Grow the party, that’s the only priority.

Adams and Martin are scrapping to lead the Opposition. Please don’t be fooled – it is nothing more.

We need a Government with a proven track record. Not one making it up as it goes along. Pulled this way and that way by independents and others whose patriotism stops at their constituency borders.

A vote for Labour is a vote for good governance. A vote for Labour is a vote for competence. A vote for Labour is a vote for stability. A vote for Labour is a vote for balance. Balance between left and right. Balance between liberal and conservative. People for whom compromise is a national duty not a dirty word.

Labour – the party that puts Ireland first. The party prepared to take difficult decisions if that is what is required. The party that thinks long term not short term. The party that thinks of future generations. The party that puts our children first.

This outcome of this election is still undecided. The electorate has still to decide who should govern next. But they know what Labour stand for.

And they know we will do what is right by them.


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