Ross says Independent Alliance has ended cronyism and brought stability
Alliance wants to see tax on gambling raised from 1% to 2% in the budget
Finian McGrath: he said the government had been talking about ratifying the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities for 15 years, but he and the Independent Alliance had made it happen. Photograph: Getty Images
The Independent Alliance has ended cronyism and brought stability to the country, its members said on Thursday, calling for another two years in office.
The four members of the Alliance were speaking after their pre-Dáil think-in in Dublin.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the alliance had a record of reform and achievement.
“One of the most significant achievements of the Independent Alliance is the end of cronyism. We have seen no more crony scandals during the period of government,” he said, citing the Judicial Appointments Bill which he has championed. The Bill, which makes changes to the way judges are appointed, is currently before the Seanad.
Mr Ross also referred to his road safety Bill which he hoped would have a significant impact of “ deterring people from drink driving”.
He also said that the alliance was seeking to exempt older people on fixed incomes from the property tax.
Junior Minister John Halligan said the alliance also wanted to see tax on gambling raised from 1 per cent to 2 per cent in the budget.
He said there would be social welfare increases and old age pensions increases in the budget, although both the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe have also signalled this move.
‘We demanded that’
Minster for Disability Finian McGrath said the government had been talking about ratifying the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities for 15 years, but he and the Independent Alliance had made it happen. “We demanded that, we got that.”
Junior minister for the Office of Public Works Kevin “Boxer” Moran said the Independent Alliance was “doing things for people”. He said he had secured a billion euro for flooding defences in the 1½ years he had been in office.
However, he raised concerns about overspending in the Department of Health, which Ministers have been warned will affect their budget allocations for next year. “We cannot keep throwing money at health and not getting the response for the people of this country.”
He said the Independent Alliance would be seeking a meeting with the Minister for Health Simon Harris to discuss this.
Continue in office
All the Ministers present bar Mr Ross cited their success in securing money for projects in their departments. They said they wanted to see the Government continue in office for the remainder of the Dáil term.
Mr Halligan said it would be “an error and a mistake” to hold a general election in the autumn. The Irish people did not want an election.
However, Mr McGrath said if there was an election “the Independent Alliance would always be ready”.