FG backbencher criticises Fianna Fáil ‘€3.5bn spending’ calls

Peter Burke says FF has ‘no coherent strategy’ just a ‘throw cash at the issue’ approach

Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath Peter Burke said Fianna Fáil needed to ‘cost, detail and explain where public money should be spent in 2019’. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath Peter Burke said Fianna Fáil needed to ‘cost, detail and explain where public money should be spent in 2019’. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

 

Fianna Fáil made “irrational” spending calls totalling more than €3.5 million last year, a Government backbencher has claimed.

Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath Peter Burke said Fianna Fáil needed to “cost, detail and explain where public money should be spent in 2019, rather than making loose calls for spending on proposals across the board without due consideration of the financial implications involved”.

“They need to tell us why a policy should receive the benefit of public financial support and also consider the implications that such a suggestion would have on other public services,” Mr Burke said.

“This would be of far more benefit this year to the people that elected them rather than demanding irrational spending claims which dominated Fianna Fáil’s agenda throughout last year.”

“There is no coherent strategy from Fianna Fáil, just their well-worn approach of throw cash at whatever the issue is. ‘When we have it we spend it’ still seems to be the Fianna Fáil mantra.”

“This is exactly the type of mentality that led us into the financial turmoil we faced a decade ago – absolutely nobody, not even Fianna Fáil dare I suggest, will want to go back there,” he added.

Mr Burke said that throughout last year he had listed and tallied Fianna Fáil spending demands and claimed they amounted to €3.5 billion.

“This is a minimum and conservative estimate and does not include the many more spending calls made by Micheál Martin’s party which are impossible to cost.

“Nevertheless that didn’t stop Fianna Fáil’s financial recklessness. For the first five months of the year, they made spending calls amounting to €1.5 billion and they managed to add at least €2 billion onto that tally for the remaining months of 2018.”

Mr Burke said Fianna Fáil and party leader Micheál Martin had “displayed good political judgement in allowing the confidence and supply arrangement continue until 2020”.

“We in Fine Gael in a minority government work with opposition members to ensure legislation is passed and the correct decisions are taken for the country.”

He said of the measures called for by Fianna Fáil were “fine by themselves and in some cases are being implemented by Fine Gael in government”.

“The problem is not any individual proposal, but rather that the totality of the commitments highlights the lack of internal coherence in Fianna Fáil when it comes to economic management.”

Responding to the claims, Fianna Fáil’s education spokesman Thomas Byrne said Mr Burke’s accusations should be put aside and that Fine Gael should instead focus on Brexit.

He said he felt that it had been unwise for Fine Gael to publish the statement particularly at a time when the UK was experiencing the uncertainty and chaos of Brexit.

“Frankly, it’s scary, we need to ensure that doesn’t happen here.”