Ó Cuív ‘praises’ Labour policies

Éamon Ó Cuív has “complimented” Labour for “having the good sense” to implement Fianna Fáil’s policies.

The Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman made the thinly veiled attack on Labour as he launched the party’s rural strategy yesterday.

Mr Ó Cuív said the public must now make a choice between the Fianna Fáil action plan for rural Ireland, which he said would bring jobs, infrastructure and services to isolated areas, or the Government’s “plan to create plans”.

He said: “We have to get away from this Alice in Wonderland view of rural Ireland, you know, if you keep a few basic services there, they will be happy.

“Rural Ireland has the same aspirations as the rest of the country to high-quality services and jobs.

“What we need is the basic provision of infrastructure and services to do that.

“The Government’s recently published rural charter proposes nothing other than a talking shop. After five years in power, their record on rural Ireland is shameful.”

Fianna Fáil’s manifesto promises to bring 30,000 jobs to rural Ireland, restore the pupil-teacher ratio in small schools, and press ahead with decentralisation of government bodies.

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They would also reinstate a senior rural ministry, maintain rural GP cover, and increase GP’s rural practice allowances.

Providing high-speed broadband and proper mobile phone coverage across the country would be a major priority.

Turning to the Labour Party, Mr Ó Cuív said: “I have to compliment the Labour Party on one thing: Implementing Fianna Fáil policy, and literally ditching their own policy as soon as they walked in the door to government.”

However, he added that Labour would have spent more money and hastened the crash if they had been in power during the time of the Fianna Fáil government.

Mr Ó Cuív claimed that, while in opposition, Fine Gael and Labour did not ask the Fianna Fáil-led government to reduce spending but instead encouraged it to spend more.

At its conference over the weekend, Labour repeatedly pointed out that Fianna Fáil had crashed the economy.

Reacting yesterday, Mr Ó Cuiv said that neither Fine Gael nor Labour had stood up against the amount his party were spending prior to the crash, adding: “In fact they demanded more.”

“Not one private members’ bill was saying ‘would you slow it down lads and stop spending that money on social welfare, that money on education, that money on health’.”

Likewise, he said that Fine Gael and Labour in opposition had not spoken out against reducing taxes “all we ever got to be quite honest was, ‘there is €3bn in surplus would you for God’s sake spend it?’ ”

Mr Ó Cuív said he “sincerely regrets” any part he played in the downturn but said that Labour would have inflicted more pain if they had been in power at the time of the crash.

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