Fianna Fáil’s Education spokesperson Thomas Byrne has described comments by Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD Peter Burke as “Punch and Judy politics”.
He told RTE’s Morning Ireland that Mr Burke’s accusations that Fianna Fáil repeatedly made wild calls to increase public spending should be put aside at this time and that instead Fine Gael should focus on Brexit.
“This is crazy stuff,” he added.
Mr Burke, who chairs the Fine Gael research unit, said Fianna Fáil had made irrational spending claims throughout last year that totalled €3.5bn. He claimed the party had no coherent strategy and sought to throw cash at every issue.
Mr Byrne said that the Fine Gael research unit should instead focus all its efforts on Brexit and questioned where Fine Gael had found the details for the 17-page document as they did not appear to be based on Dáil questions.
Mr Burke said that the research was based on calls made by Fianna Fáil at different times over the past year. “This tells us that Fine Gael is economically responsible. It is important that when Fianna Fáil takes a reckless approach, we should call them out.”
However, Mr Byrne felt that it had been unwise for Fine Gael to publish the statement particularly at a time when the UK was experiencing the uncertainty and chaos of Brexit.
Earlier on Newstalk Breakfast Mr Byrne called on Fine Gael to focus on the international crisis that was Brexit. He said it was hypocritical for Mr Burke to make some of the comments in view of the fact that the Rainy Day fund introduced in the last Budget had come about at the insistence of Fianna Fáil.
“They criticise us, then they adopt our policy.”
However, Mr Burke said that it was important, with the backdrop of Brexit, that “this kind of practice should be stopped.
“A leopard doesn’t change its spots. It is up to Fianna Fáil to stop this.”