Special interest groups round on agreement for 'failing to tackle key issues'

Doctors, gardaí, teachers, and opposition parties have criticised the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil government formation deal for failing to tackle key problems in their areas, and have warned that the plan offers few details on how long-term crises can be tackled.

The various groups made the claim 24 hours after the deal was finally passed by Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin’s parties, paving the way for a government to potentially be formed between Fine Gael and Independents over the coming days.

Under the document signed off on by the party leaders on Tuesday night the next government is due to sit until at least the end of 2018 when both parties will review whether the minority government is working.

The plan says the existing health budget system will be replaced with a five-year model to ensure long-term issues are adequately addressed, while €15m will also be ringfenced for the return of the waiting list-focussed National Treatment Purchase Fund.

A total of 15,000 new gardaí will be appointed alongside a review of Garda stations across the country in a bid to close chronic gaps due to highly controversial recent cutbacks, while school class sizes will be reduced.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have insisted the deal will ensure a stable government is formed. However, despite the claim the seven page deal — which will act as a “framework” document before exact details are worked out between Fine Gael and Independents in a programme for government — was heavily criticised yesterday.

The Irish Medical Organisation said the document “shows the two largest parties have neither the will nor the ideas to fix the health service”. The doctors’ group said the deal is a “major disappointment” to patients and medics, as any discussion on health involved “scattered piecemeal” plans, the fact mental health funding was addressed under “crime and community services” and that despite “a lot of rhetoric” during the election about GP cover “there is no mention” of expanding the service.

The Garda Representatives Association was equally critical, saying that while promises to appoint 15,000 more officers are welcome this should only take place after “recessionary pay caps” which mean new gardaí earn just €24,171 are addressed.

University union IFUT similarly said the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil deal has “virtually ignored” funding for the sector, despite it being key to Ireland’s long-stated smart economy and was a “snub” to the service.

In the Dáil yesterday Sinn Féin, Labour, and the Greens also questioned the value of the framework deal, with Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly said he could not believe it took three weeks to draw up.

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