20 February 2016

Speaking at the launch of ‘Standing Up for Public Services’


“Labour is the party of public services.

That is why we’ve chosen to allocate our available resources on a 3 to 1 basis for spending on vital services over tax cuts.

Our tax package is moderate and targeted on those who need it most.

Those for whom work needs to be rewarded better.

But our 3:1 spending ratio allows us to do things that other parties cannot.

Like employing over 17,000 additional staff to work on frontline services.

Is this too much? No.

In doing so our number of public servants will not reach the peak employment levels of 2008.

In fact there will still be some way to go.

And it is appropriate as our population increases that the number of public servants increases also.

You’ll see a particular emphasis on education staff in our proposals.

For Labour education is the bridge to opportunity.

For Labour education is the bulwark against inequality.

For Labour education is the silver bullet.

We want to reduce class sizes to improve the quality of education every child receives.

Health is crucial too.

The number of people working in our health services is now back to its 2011 level I am pleased to report.

Indeed, it is not far off its pre-crisis peak.

But our population has increased and we do need more staff.

Nurses, doctors and specialist staff.

Labour is committed to providing them.

As we are committed to increasing the number of Gardaí on our streets.

Labour is also committed to paying our public servants fairly.

We have made clear our commitment to honour the Lansdowne Road Agreement and negotiate a successor agreement.

Unlike others we will not create a crisis in our public services by making unsustainable commitments.

I don’t know whether Fianna Fáil fail to understand that repealing the FEMPI acts that they designed will cost more than €1bn immediately. This is not a 2019 issue. It would impact immediately. There would be no discussions with the Unions.

Public servants deserve more honesty than that.

Labour will build on the commitment to public servants that put pay restoration on the agenda in 2015.

A move that has started this year with the beginning of the unwinding of the measures introduced by Fianna Fáil in Government.

It will be Labour’s job to ensure that the pay of public servants cut during the crisis is fully restored and done in a sustainable way.

As this election campaign enters its last week the electorate face a clear choice.

A choice between this imperfect Government and no Government.

Let me repeat that – no Government.

Micheal Martin is running a campaign all right – running away from the hard question.

What Government will he form?

Who will be in it?

And just don’t ask him about it because he gets aggressive.

And as we enter the last week of the campaign the question is even more pertinent.

Sinn Fein, of course, have no interest in being in Government.

‘Right to change’ coalitions are a figleaf.

A way of deflecting the question.

That’s not going to happen.

And Gerry Adams is busy proving his inability to answer even basic questions about his party policy.

Far more comfortable talking about 1916 than 2016.

The bottom line is that there is no alternative for the Irish people. If they believe that stable Government has been part of the successful mix that has taken us this far, and they should, they should vote for Labour.

So the Irish people have to ask themselves the question.

Who will talk about making a difference?

As against who will actually make a difference?

The answer is clear.

Only Labour is prepared to make a difference.

Only Labour put public pay restoration on the agenda.

Only Labour is committed to building our public services as its priority.

Only Labour, on the left, is committed to growing the economy

Only Labour, on the left, has a track record of managing the public finances.

Only Labour will stand up for public services.”



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