Bruton attributes economic boom to O'Malley

 

The foundation of the State's so-called "Celtic tiger" economy was attributed in the Dail yesterday to the former Progressive Democrats leader, Mr Desmond O'Malley, and his uncle, the late Mr Donogh O'Malley, when they were Fianna Fail ministers.

Fine Gael's leader, Mr John Bruton, said the current economic success "has nothing to do with the Minister for Finance in his current incarnation. Nor is it due to any action taken by me as Taoiseach. The foundations of our current economic success go back a long way."

It could probably be attributed to a decision by the late Mr Donogh O'Malley, when minister for education, to introduce free secondary education. "That, and the decisions to join the EU and to guarantee a corporate tax rate of 10 per cent, which was taken by Deputy Desmond O'Malley, are among the foundation stones of our current success."

He said that EU membership required Government to adopt a pro-competitive policy on public procurement and the operation of State companies. "Were it not for the requirements of EU membership we would not enjoy our current economic success."

Efficiency was the other requirement for economic success and "there are serious problems of efficiency in the management of the structure of our economy".

The clearest demonstration of the inefficiency of the political process was seen in the combined problems of traffic and housing. The Labour party leader, Mr Ruairi Quinn, was swingeing in his criticisms of the Government and said that while his party would continue to offer constructive support to the administration on the North, in all other areas "we will continue with a policy of vigorous opposition".

He said that the Government "stubbornly refuses to recognise" the new opportunities and challenges of the nation's new wealth. The Government constantly made "smug comparisons" between growth and development in previous and current years, instead of looking to the future.