FG and FF must wake up to crises in Housing and Transport

01 June 2018

If it takes Fine Gael and Fianna Fail as long to wake up and smell the roses on Housing and the Transport infrastructure, as it did on the 8th Amendment, we’ll be well into the next crisis said Jack O Connor

Addressing Labour Party members who participated in the “YES” campaign in Wicklow, Party Chairperson Jack O’Connor, who has been selected to contest the General Election in Wicklow, has accused the Government of pursuing a policy which directly contradicts the compassionate and caring outlook reflected in the result of the Referendum.

“We unequivocally welcome the overwhelming vote in Wicklow. It has to be interpreted as a vote for a new openness which is compassionate and caring. Particular credit is due to Labour and the other parties of the Left as well as other individuals, who opposed the 8th amendment in the first place all of thirty five years ago and who continued to seek its removal since. It took real guts to oppose it then. We did not wait for our thinking to evolve so that it conveniently coincided with the shift in public opinion. However, the important thing is that political leaders of Parties who had been responsible for its insertion in the Constitution originally, changed their minds, irrespective of their reasons. This was crucial to the result.

“It is also important to acknowledge that the majority of those who voted “NO” were also motivated by a sense of compassion and caring in their perspective.” he said.

“The key thing now is to ensure that this overwhelming endorsement of a modern open democratic and compassionate approach carries through into public policy in the matters that really make a difference in peoples’ lives. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the attitude of the present Government or of Fianna Fail, which is supporting them. This is graphically illustrated in the ridiculous proposal for a so-called ‘Rainy Day’ Fund.

“This entails placing €8bn of the peoples’ money, which would build forty thousand houses, in cold storage, while thousands of families languish on local authority waiting lists and commuters suffer traffic congestion levels which are among the worst in Europe. These twin evils, which are entirely avoidable, are most acutely felt in Co Wicklow. The County has one of the worst housing records in the country. Meanwhile traffic congestion on the M11/N11 is among the most acute in the Leinster commuter belt despite the fact that that it is the main artery to the South East.

“The purported arguments for not building forty thousand houses to alleviate the housing crisis or to fast track essential investment in the transport infrastructure and to keep the peoples’ money on ice doing nothing instead, don’t stand up. The State already has nearly €40bn at its disposal between the so called Strategic Investment Fund and “Cash Balances” held by the exchequer. Worse – the so called “Rainy Day Fund” could not be deployed into the economy in a downturn anyhow, because of domestic and EU fiscal rules. The other argument has to do with avoiding “overheating”. However, failing to address the housing crisis will actually exacerbatethe danger. The way to address the potential problem of overheating, which does not currently exist, is by establishing the long delayed mandatory Second Pillar Pension Scheme to drain off surplus liquidity, while simultaneously addressing our long term pension deficit.

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fail’s preoccupation with the “Rainey Day Fund”, may be well intended. However, its about dealing with the last crisis. The tragedy is that if it takes them as long as it took them to smell the roses on the 8th amendment, we’ll be well into the next one ,” he concluded.


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