Programme for government to be reviewed after elections, says Cowen


TAOISEACH'S STATEMENT:TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has confirmed the programme for government will be reviewed in the aftermath of the European and local elections.

Speaking to reporters at St Caimin’s Community College in Shannon, Co Clare yesterday, Mr Cowen said: “The programme for government is going ahead and we are going to obviously review it in the aftermath of the election.”

“During elections, various proposals are put forward, we will discuss them. There is no problem with that.”

Asked if the Green Party had asked to meet him on the issue, Mr Cowen said: “Not at all. They have made a statement over the weekend. We have responded and we get on with our business.”

Asked were there any circumstances in which he would resign, Mr Cowen said: “No, there are no circumstances in which my resignation is required whatever. We are here to lead the country. We have the next three years to do that and we intend doing it.

“We have the plans in place and we intend, I assure you, in leading this country out of the present difficulties back towards renewed prosperity. Fianna Fáil has done it in the past and is going to do it again.”

Asked if he had concerns over his own position after recent poor opinion poll showings, Mr Cowen said: “No. I have no concerns whatever about it. We have a long haul in terms of delivering on the policies. Obviously it has been a difficult year.”

He added: “Everyone who is observing the situation, whether it’s the ESRI and people from outside the country, recognise the direction the policies are being taken are the right policies.

“Are they imposing hardships and difficulties on our people? They certainly are. Is there is a reduction in our standard of living as a result? Yes, there is.

“But what we’re doing is we’re having to do that in the interests of getting this country back up and running to the best extent possible, as quickly as possible.

“Without dealing with the issue of our public finances, we would be postponing the prospects of that recovery.

Mr Cowen stressed: “This Government is determined to pursue its mandate for the next three years and in 2012, of course go to the people and ask them for their verdict on our work.”

Stating that the Fianna Fáil party and organisation “is in good heart”, Mr Cowen confirmed that as part of its local election campaign manifesto that in the local authorities where Fianna Fáil hold majorities, “we will be saying that commercial rates will be frozen for the next three years as an effort to assist business at a time for great difficulty for Irish business”.

Speaking in Listowel, Mr Cowen said he had brought forward the question of the programme of the smart economy from his own department.

“I led that process in Government,” he said.

The programme for sustainable economic renewal had the full participation of the Green Party “of course”, but the programme had come from his department.

How to marry economic and environmental issues and energy policy to get sustainable growth was a central part of Government policy, Mr Cowen said.

Both parties were working together and the “vision of change” or “new thinking” was not the property of any one political party, he stressed.

Asked about the noticeable shyness of many local election candidates to proclaim and highlight they were standing for Fianna Fáil on election literature, Mr Cowen said all Fianna Fáil candidates should be proclaiming they were from Fianna Fáil, although one or two might be “faint-hearted”.

“If anyone has a problem, they should have thought of that long before they put their name forward,” he said.

The vast majority of Fianna Fáil candidates were proud to put their affiliation forward and he was heartened by the support and the canvassers “everywhere I go”.

Fianna Fáil had many thousands of volunteers out working for the election.

It was important to be open and honest and there were more tough decisions to come, he added.