Labour will help those still in grip of recession, says Burton

Tánaiste condemns ‘economic kamikaze’ of SF and right wing’s ‘undue austerity’

Joan Burton has launched 

a searing attack on the Government’s opponents.

Joan Burton has launched a searing attack on the Government’s opponents.

 

Tánaiste Joan Burton has said Labour will mount a strong fightback in 2015 against the “economic kamikaze” of Sinn Féin and the ultra left, as well as the “undue austerity” advocated by fiscal conservatives.

The Labour Party leader has promised to roll out a new agenda in the coming months that will target that section of the population which has not felt the benefits of economic recovery.

While arguing that the economy has recovered strongly, Ms Burton has acknowledged many families and individuals are still struggling from the impact of the crash.

“My focus will principally be on those who have had to endure stagnant incomes over a prolonged period and haven’t seen recovery in their own lives.”

In an opinion article for The Irish Times, Ms Burton has launched a searing attack on the Government’s political opponents, on the left and the right.

She has contended the economic revival is real and that the economy grew at a “thumping rate” in 2014.

Furthermore, Labour’s involvement in the Coalition, she has argued, has meant households on social welfare and in lower-income groups were protected from austerity hawks.

In a harsh criticism of Opposition parties, she said the changes during 2014 have been “utterly different to the doomsday predictions that suggested the sky was about to fall”.

“Among the horrors forecast were runaway inflation, a deathly debt spiral, double- dip or even triple-dip recessions, and a collapse of international investment. All these prophecies were wrong,” said Ms Burton.

“In the coming months, the Labour Party will mount a fightback against this kind of politics.

“We will commence a rollout of an agenda that will build on what has been achieved while recognising the genuine threats that do arise from within a moribund euro zone and the uncertain outlook in Greece. ”

In a defence of the troika programme, the Tánaiste asserts fiscal conservatives were wrong in arguing for a further €2 billion in adjustments during the recent budget.

Ms Burton insisted that the hard left’s approach was equally wrong.

“The alternative of sovereign default, as advocated by Sinn Féin and the hard left, would have forced Ireland to close the gap between revenue and expenditure in one fell swoop, which would have been even more brutal.

“Measures to close this gap would have devastated public services – closing hospitals, schools and slashing social welfare.

“The troika programme provided the time and space to bring order to the public finances at a more measured pace,” she asserted.

Ms Burton said that a reviving economy would allow resources to be targeted at low- and middle-income families in 2015, as well as at Labour priority areas of housing, schools and broadband.

“In 2015 the economy will be centre stage and Labour will mark out its own distinct approach, a sensible path between the undue austerity advocated by fiscal conservatives and the economic kamikaze of Sinn Féin and the ultra left,” said Ms Burton.