The confidence and supply deal has been further damaged after a widely leaked Fine Gael report accused Fianna Fáil of making €1.5bn worth of promises this year that the country cannot afford.
The document, which was drawn up by an internal Fine Gael group, has sparked fresh fears of a snap election during the upcoming budget talks amid Fine Gael plans to ramp up attacks on Fianna Fáil on the same issue in the months to come.
In the leaked 13-page report titled Fianna Fáil’s roulette economics will repeat the mistakes of the past, Fine Gael officials made a series of claims about their rival party.
Specifically, the report claimed Fianna Fáil has made €1.5bn of “populist spending demands” across health, housing, social affairs, and education since the start of the year, labelling the promises as “reckless spending calls”.
While the report is officially part of ongoing internal Fine Gael research on the price tags for Fianna Fáil’s opposition promises, the fact it was widely leaked has led to an angry outburst from Micheál Martin’s party.
And with the first stages of Budget 2019 talks due to begin in the coming weeks before the end of the confidence and supply deal later this year, the latest row has led to fresh fears over whether the existing minority government deal will continue.
In a statement yesterday, a Fianna Fáil spokesperson said the document is a “juvenile” attempt to distract from Fine Gael’s own failures in office and insisted the party will not be put off from seeking public service investment in the upcoming budget talks.
“Fine Gael has previously stated they believe in a US-style tax regime, where the wealthiest in society are prioritised for tax cuts and those who rely on decent public services can wait. But the Irish people gave them their answer in 2016.
“This latest nonsense is obviously another attempt to get their divisive Tory-style agenda back on the table in advance of the upcoming budget negotiations. It will be as unsuccessful as it is transparent.
“Fine Gael can continue to focus on silly politics and their spin over substance approach to Government. Fianna Fáil will continue to focus on using our mandate to get things done and improve the lives of our people.”
The internal Fine Gael document was drawn up at the behest of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who told the Dáil last April he is keeping a record of the alleged costs of Fianna Fáil’s opposition promises due to fears they risk over-heating the economy.
Fianna Fáil has heavily criticised the claim, insisting it is putting forward genuine proposals which must be introduced for the benefit of the public.
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