FG rules out prospect of second 'Tallaght strategy'

 

Fine Gael has firmly rejected any possibility of a so-called "Tallaght strategy" to support the Government’s economic measures.

The term refers to the 1987 decision by then Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes to support a minority Fianna Fáil government in its measures to balance the national finances.

In a statement this evening, the front bench agreed the current deficit/GDP ratio must be reduced to 3 per cent by 2014. This was the target already agreed between the Government and the European Commission.

“Fine Gael accepts that because of higher debt servicing charges and lower projected growth the fiscal adjustment required needs to be to amounts above what is already agreed,” the statement said.

The party said it believed the adjustment needed to be “front-loaded”, but “only to the point where it delivers lower international interest rates on Government borrowing, at the cost of the minimum impact on growth”.

Noting it would be a “difficult judgment call”, the party said: “Fine Gael will make independent decisions on what expenditure and tax measures are required to achieve the targets we set. We will not be bound by the decisions on particular expenditure cuts and tax increases which the Government may announce."

The party's statement said it would continue to play a constructive role in the forthcoming debate on the Budget but said “the matter of a second Tallaght strategy simply does not arise”.

“The context now is different from then.”

Fine Gael said the current Government was “a discredited majority Fianna Fáil/Green Party/Independent Government at the end of its term of office”.

“Under the original Tallaght strategy that minority Fianna Fáil Government agreed to implement Fine Gael policies.

“This Fianna Fáil-led Government, in contrast, has rejected and attacked Fine Gael policies. Had they agreed with Fine Gael on issues like benchmarking [of public service pay], Nama, Anglo wind-down and the need for a jobs stimulus plan, then the economy would not now be in crisis.”

The statement said the idea of a ‘national government’ was being pushed by many of those who wanted to keep Fianna Fáil in office.

“What they mean by the term is a Fianna Fáil Government, whose policies are supported by the Opposition and by Fine Gael in particular. However, the current Government does not have the authority or credibility to deliver the budgetary programmes that will restore Ireland’s fortunes.”

The party said it was happy to accept any assistance from the Department of Finance to help frame the Fine Gael approach to the budget.

It would seek to secure a budget outcome that reassured the international markets and that placed growth and jobs “as central to any plan emerging from Government”.