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Fergus Finlay (Irish Examiner, Opinion, July 7) argues that Fianna Fail tried to buy elections in the last decade and said that cautious advice was dismissed as being “the views of ‘left wing pinkos’”.
But Mr Finlay, and his Labour Party, did not offer cautious advice on spending and tax cutting during the last decade.
Labour’s 2007 manifesto opened with the lines: “Economic growth and prosperity have changed the face of our country. The prosperity dreamt of by the founders of the Irish state has been achieved. Ireland now is a far more open and tolerant society”. It went on to promise all forms of new spending, while the party leader, Pat Rabbitte, had given a commitment to cut the standard rate of tax to 18%. It is of little consolation now, but the Fianna Fail manifesto for that election was the most fiscally conservative of all the parties.
While Brian Cowen and Charlie McCreevy made mistakes (and I am not seeking to minimise the impact of unsustainable economic policies), opposition criticism of their approach during the boom years was not “cautious advice”. Rather, Fianna Fail were told that they were not spending enough.
My argument, though, is not a focus on the party political, but on how our politics operate. We need to ask the parties and candidates who make significant spending commitments how they can fund such actions.
If we want better services, we have to pay for them; if we want to cut taxes or charges, how can we fund it? It will be a more honest political debate, but I fear a less popular one.
Cllr. Malcolm Byrne (FF)
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