‘Don’t vote for parties that think money grows on trees’ - Renua

Lucinda Creighton outlines social progress index plan at ‘decent society’ policy launch

Renua Leader Lucinda Creighton has warned the electorate of voting for parties who think money grows on trees. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Renua Leader Lucinda Creighton has warned the electorate of voting for parties who think money grows on trees. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton has warned the electorate against “voting for parties that believe money grows on trees” as business leaders expressed concern about the impact of votes for left-leaning parties on the economy.

She also said Ireland has a fiscal watchdog but not a social watchdog and outlined a Renua proposal for a social progress index measuring societal development rather than GDP.

Ms Creighton said the index would target key indicators from broadband and housing to childcare and nursing home provision.

Ms Creighton was speaking at the launch of Renua’s Decent Society policy which includes a €500 million a year commitment to childcare tax credits for parents and the creation of an Ombudsman for children with disabilities.

She said the attempt by the Government to save €113 million in 2013 by reviewing and cutting medical cards would not have happened if it had to consider its impact on social progress.

The move “brought cruelty on the most vulnerable in our society unparalleled by any previous administration”.

Stressing the need for a social progress index, she said an independent agency such as the ESRI could be responsible for the evaluation and assessment of government on the 58 indicators, which also include school completion rates per area, hospital admission times, disease prevalence by area, economic activity and indebtedness per capita.

She said it would become a “bellwether” of how Ireland performs annually and to ensure transparency it would be put on the government’s website Merrionstreet.ie for the public to check.

The Dublin Bay South TD said “we have a fiscal watchdog (Fiscal Advisory Council) who watches over how we spend our money and tax our workers but we have no social watchdog to inform the public how society is improving”.

She said the fiscal watchdog had shown the public what spending plans were realistic and what were bogus “and this has transformed the election debate. We need to see the same impact for monitoring social progress”.

The policy includes a split of maternity leave between parents and a childcare tax credit to parents worth €500 million annually, which she said was the party’s one key spending commitment.

Ms Creighton said Ireland had the lowest female participation in the workforce in the EU and that was holding back the economy and the contribution women could make.

She said a Red C poll had shown that 86 per cent of parents wanted tax credits.

Asked about a letter from business leaders expressing concern about votes for left-leaning parties, the Ms Creighton said she would take seriously a view that warned against anti-business parties, because they had no path or plan to pay for all their spending commitments.

“It’s important that people don’t vote for parties who believe that money grows on trees because it doesn’t; we have to earn it and when we’re spending we’re spending taxpayers’ money.”

Asked about the opinion polls - the latest Red C poll put Renua on 2 per cent - Ms Creighton said it was very hard to evaluate how the small parties were doing because the margin of error was 3 per cent to 4 per cent.

“The only poll that matters is on Friday,” she said, adding that “there are no certainties in the election”.

She said it was a “groundwar” for every seat.