Sinn Féin describes ESRI report as 'misleading piece of work'


AN ESRI report claiming 44 per cent of working families would be better off on the dole could be used in a “cynical way” to reduce social welfare rates in the next budget, Sinn Féin has claimed.

The party’s deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, described the report as a “shoddy and misleading piece of work” and “incendiary” based on data from 2004 and 2005.

She said it was not peer-reviewed internally or externally and “it has been spun and used by some people to create the impression that the hundreds of thousands of people who are out of work at the moment are somehow living a gilt-edged lifestyle”. Ms McDonald called on the Taoiseach to give an assurance the report would not be used by Government in efforts to cut welfare rates.

However, Enda Kenny said: “I do not see why we cannot have an opportunity to discuss these issues through the Oireachtas committees.”

The State-funded economic think tank withdrew the report from its website on the grounds that its analysis needed revision, although its author, former ERSI economist Prof Richard Tol, said he stood over its conclusions.

Mr Kenny said “unemployment and employment are the most pertinent and fundamental issues that are facing this country and its people”. He did not accepts Ms McDonald’s assertions “that all of these policies are bad”, and pointed to the creation of 11,000 jobs in the hospitality sector and other forthcoming jobs.

He also stressed there was no Government interference to have the document withdrawn. The ESRI was an independent organisation and “I could not, and would not, stand over any contact from the Government to an independent organisation saying that particular documentation must be withdrawn or taken down”.