No evidence of Dáil consensus - Lenihan

 

LENIHAN SPEECH:MINISTER FOR Finance Brian Lenihan welcomed calls for a consensus approach to the economy, but said there had been no evidence of this in the Dáil over the past few months.

Speaking at the ardfheis on Saturday, the Minister said senior retired Fine Gael figures such as Garret FitzGerald had made constructive suggestions about a joint approach to the economy but in the Dáil the main Opposition had opposed measures like the pension levy.

“Labour leader Eamon Gilmore suggested a constructive approach during the week but 24 hours later he made the removal of our party leader a precondition for any co-operation. That is clearly unacceptable.”

Mr Lenihan said the difficulties facing the economy were the most challenging in the history of our State.

”Of course, if we could have foreseen the extent of the international crisis we would have done things differently. Perhaps as a Government we were over-ambitious in trying to meet the understandable demands of our people for more and better public services when the resources were there.

“There is little to be gained in beating ourselves up over this. We have to get on and do what we can and do it in a united way.”

Mr Lenihan said there was now an €18 billion hole in the public finances. “The world is looking on. We need to persuade those who might invest here that we are capable of taking the tough decisions now to get our house in order. If we cannot do that, we are in danger of losing all the gains we have made over the last 20 years.”

Averil Power from Malahide said the Opposition had no answers to the problems of the country.

She said Fine Gael was on the ideological right and wanted to cut spending more than the Government, while Labour was on the democratic left and wanted to spend more.

Gerard McHale from Galway said relief for those paying high mortgages was vitally important. However, he added that people were not defaulting to anything like the extent portrayed by the media.