Government dependence on corporation tax ‘unhealthy’, McGrath warns

‘Party of prudence has become party of recklessness,’ claims Fianna Fáil’s Cowen

Fianna Fail’s finance  spokesman Michael McGrath. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Fianna Fail’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath. Photograph: Laura Hutton

 

Fianna Fáil has sharply criticised the Government’s management of exchequer funds and claimed that “the resources have not been well spent”.

The party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath also hit out at the approach to corporation tax and warned that while the Government’s language on Brexit has “noticeably changed”, it has still not clarified what will happen on the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr McGrath defended his party’s support for keeping Fine Gael in government “given the enormity of what is at stake” with Brexit.

This, he said, was despite his party’s frustration at “the Government’s obsession with spin and PR, and the failure to deliver where it matters”, including health and housing.

He said Fianna Fáil’s support should not be read as an endorsement of the Government but “given the ongoing chaos in Westminster, the value of political stability here should not be underestimated”.

The Cork South-Central TD said that an estimated €15 billion more than expected had been collected in corporation tax receipts since 2015, but “the stark truth is not one euro of it has been put away”.

He said “the bottom line is our public finances should be in a better place than they are heading into a potential Brexit crisis” and he warned that “our reliance on corporation tax receipts is unhealthy” and change is coming.

Fianna Fáil’s public expenditure and reform spokesman Barry Cowen said the but this is a Brexit budget, “plain and simple”.

He said his party has approached it “in good faith” because, facing into an international emergency, “we must put the country first”.

But he spread his criticism across all parties and said that without the stability provided by Fianna Fáil, “we would drown in the alphabet soup of left-wing groups who have little interest in policy and no interest in government”.

He hit out at Sinn Féin’s approach to Brexit. Under former leader Gerry Adams , “they haven’t gone away you know”, he said, but with current leader Mary Lou McDonald, “they haven’t turned up”.

Mr Cowen said the day was coming when a decade of power would end for Fine Gael as the dream of home ownership slipped away from a generation, and with scandals of runaway costs and a deepening crisis in the health service.

”The republic of photo opportunities built up over the past 10 years has long since been exposed as all spin and no substance. A party of prudence has turned into a party of recklessness.”

Mr McGrath said that apart from “gross mismanagement of key capital projects” such as the National Children’s hospital, there were questions about what return “voters have got from a major increase in spending in areas such as health”.

On Brexit, Mr McGrath reiterated his party’s “serious and deep” concerns about the preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

The Government has been assuring businesses there would be no physical infrastructure on the Border even if there was no deal, but the language “has noticeably changed”, he said.

“There will be checks if there is a no deal, but we have no clarity on what this will look like,” he said. “No clarity on where the checks will take place, no clarity on what checks will take place and no clarity on how long these checks will take.”