Gilmore, McDonald clash over 'green jersey' of policies


TÁNAISTE Eamon Gilmore has rejected criticism of the Government’s economic policies and called on the Opposition to don the “green jersey”.

In a row about meeting EU-IMF targets, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of being involved in an “ongoing assault” on the livelihoods of low- and middle-income earners to get a “big gold star in the copy book” from the troika.

The Government was undoubtedly “ticking the boxes” and “meeting our targets”, but she asked where Ireland was going and “what kind of society will we be left with when we get there?”

“The domestic economy is in a heap, growth forecasts are routinely revised downwards, unemployment is higher than when the Government came into office and thousands of young people are emigrating.”

Mr Gilmore said the Government “is taking the country to recovery” and, while he did not want to exaggerate the progress, “we are on the way to recovery”.

He told Ms McDonald: “It would be helpful if on this occasion you put on the green jersey and assisted the Government in dealing with the negotiations we must have with the troika.”

Ms McDonald said it was “utterly perverse for you to ask people to put on the green jersey in order to bring about cutbacks in our schools and in the health system and to take half a million home- help hours out of the system”.

She said the Tánaiste was enthusiastically pursuing the “cutbacks agenda” which brought “utter misery” to people’s lives.

Insisting the economy was heading in the right direction, Mr Gilmore said that for the first time in years, the economy was growing and, through exports, Ireland had the biggest trade surplus in the history of the State.

He said it was time Ms McDonald “grew up and accepted the economic reality we are facing”.

Nobody was enthusiastic about cutting any service to the public but if Ms McDonald did not like the Government’s approach, instead of “bellyaching about it, you might offer a few positive suggestions”.