Taoiseach stands by fiscal targets despite new ESRI figures


THE TAOISEACH has ruled out a revision of Government fiscal targets, despite the Economic and Social Research Institute’s revised forecasts for next year.

Enda Kenny said the Government had “set its face in respect of producing our budget for 5th and 6th December and we are not changing the target we have set now”.

He had noted, he added, that Dr Joseph Durkan of the ESRI had said that if Europe and the euro zone sorted out the political problem relating to the financial crisis, confidence would return very quickly.

“That is where I am focused,” Mr Kenny said. “I believe in the best result here, which is political leadership to sort out the problem, and let us get on with our business.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Ireland was “standing by while Rome burns” as the European crisis continued.

“The time for ducking and diving is over in regard to the euro zone crisis. There is no sense of any inclusive discussion or negotiation and there is no sense of Ireland putting forward any ideas, proposals or suggestions.”

Mr Martin said that while people did not have a difficulty with stronger budgetary surveillance across Europe, anyone who thought that alone would restore market confidence was ignoring reality.

“I have been saying for months in the House that the European Central Bank has to be allowed to intervene effectively and decisively in this crisis and that is being put off month after month.”

The euro zone political leadership, he added, would be obliged to deal with the matter at the European summit on December 9th. “I have very clear views on what needs to be done, politically, and I will not be afraid to express them on behalf of this country when I attend the council meeting.”

There were heated exchanges later between Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton and Mr Martin during a pre-summit series of statements.

Ms Creighton said she knew the Fianna Fáil leader had a difficult initial period in opposition because he was trying to play the statesman and work constructively with the Government.

“It is clear that he has abandoned that approach and has resorted to opposition for opposition’s sake,” she added.

Ms Creighton claimed the only engagement on all aspects of European affairs, particularly relating to the euro crisis, had come from Sinn Féin.

Accusing Ms Creighton of playing politics, Mr Martin said the Government had not made any proposals regarding the deep and profound crisis in the euro zone.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that throughout the crisis, the Germans and French had taken upon themselves the role of European leaders and the Taoiseach had acquiesced in this de facto European government.

Catherine Murphy (Ind) said there were times in history when the fate of millions depended on the actions of a very few people.

“It is extremely worrying that the old fault lines of rancour and discord are re-emerging,” she said. “The inactivity and the paralysis has left a vacuum which is being filled with caustic and destructive cynicism.”

Mattie McGrath (Ind) said the ECB had failed Ireland and Irish people were paying the price with their blood. “We are in a third world war in which no bullets are being fired,” he said.

Stephen Donnelly (Ind) said the logic of the Taoiseach’s position was that we were not capable of governing ourselves.

“Having made grave mistakes in the past and fearing what governments may do in future, we will tie our hands and lock ourselves into rules controlled by a central authority or set of powers in Europe to ensure we do not repeat our mistakes.”