New Think-Tank Launched
Deaglán de Bréadún
A new centre-right think-tank, the National Alliance, has proposed its own four-year economic plan to €12 billion without reducing welfare rates or raising the tax burden. The group is opposed to the Croke Park agreement on public sector pay and reform.
Chaired by economist and broadcaster Marc Coleman, the group also proposes a reduction in the number of TDs to 100, introducing a list system based on the German model, creating a directly-elected Seanad and cutting the number of Local Authorities to eight.
The general secretary of the National Alliance is former campaign director of Libertas, John McGuirk but the group also includes supporters of the Lisbon Treaty.
Its four-year plan aims to reduce Ireland’s budget deficit to 3 per cent of GDP and restore balanced budgets by 2016.
“We show in our plan how, under reasonable assumptions, €12 billion in savings can be made without hurting genuine welfare dependents, without raising the tax burden and without cutting frontline public sector jobs or cutting public salaries below €35,000 per annum,” Mr Coleman said.
The group opposes the Croke Park deal and believes the public pay bill should be cut by benchmarking public salaries in excess of the average industrial wage instead.
It opposes cuts in basic welfare rates, calling instead for means-testing of welfare benefits. It also urges a programme of privatisation, and “sensitive” implementation of the McCarthy report.
“Presenting credible alternatives is also healthy and necessary and although not a political party, the National Alliance aims to renew democracy by ensuring that, at the very least, an alternative vision is presented for debate,” Mr Coleman said.
The National Alliance believes many of the McCarthy Report cost-savings “in fact represent false economies”.
“Cuts in areas like the arts, sports and culture create a disproportionately negative impact both on the public mood and on three areas where Ireland has every right to be proud of its achievements.
“The savings involved are small compared with the targets to be achieved and the most sensible course of action is protect these
areas,” Mr Coleman said.
Mr McGuirk said: “For a decade, Ireland has suffered from a lack of radicalism and an over-abundance of consensus. We are, sadly, reaping
that whirlwind today.
“The country that emerges from this crisis needs to be more flexible, more self-confident, and more assertive. The proposals we are putting
forward today are a key first step.
“I hope that the National Alliance will become a clarion voice for the values of self-determination, individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, and good governance.”