Election 2016: Joan Burton says Adams does not ‘get’ economics

Labour also announces plan to pardon those convicted of homosexual offences pre-1993

 Labour leader Joan Burton during an election event in Dublin. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Labour leader Joan Burton during an election event in Dublin. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times


Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton has said Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams does not “get” economic matters.

She said the Sinn Féin leader was not serious about being in government and that his party’s objective was to lead the opposition after the election.

“He’s famously said he’s not really into things like sums. He famously told the people involved in the Troika and other people lending to Ireland to . . . take the money and bugger off.

“And he seems to have the same kind of approach to managing the economy that how it adds up doesn’t make any difference.”

Ms Burton’s comments came after Mr Adams was interviewed by Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One on Thursday and later by Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s Six-One news.

“I don’t think he gets the economy of the South, that we are a small island. We have to trade competitively with the rest of the world. We have to attract investment into Ireland.

“We have to be able to borrow money at low rates. I just don’t think he gets it.”

Referring to Sinn Féin, Ms Burton said: “I don’t think they’re serious about being in government. In fact, I think the objective is to lead the opposition.”

Ms Burton was speaking at a Labour event, at which she called on “progressive” voters to back her party.

Official pardon

Former deputy Labour leader Liz McManus said at the event that Labour would pardon and apologise to gay men convicted of offences before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993.

Ms McManus said: “For older gay men whose consensual relationships were criminalised for so long, we will expunge their criminal records, and apologise for the wrong that was done to them.”

Ms McManus said a new national strategy would focus on improving the mental and sexual health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

It would also tackle hate crimes and eradicate discrimination in workplaces and schools.

She also said Labour would deliver a referendum on the Eighth Amendment if returned to power. “We are the only party offering itself for government that is proposing to do so.”

The 1983 Amendment, which governs the State’s abortion laws, enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution.

Ms McManus said Labour had a “long and honourable” record on women’s rights.

Ms Burton added: “It was once famously said of the dancer Ginger Rogers that she did everything Fred Astaire did.

“She just did it backwards and in high heels. There’s a touch of that about women involved in politics.”