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Fergus Finlay never ceases to surprise me. But even by his standards, his article on the Austerity Treaty (May 1) was rather surreal. His claim that Sinn Féin has become a supporter of IMF funding programmes is simply untrue.
Of course, the real reason for his deliberate misrepresentation of Sinn Féin’s position on the issue of emergency funds is to distract attention away from the Austerity Treaty.
Fergus is probably finding himself in a rather difficult position. On one hand, as a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, he must feel compelled to support the treaty.
On the other hand, he is the public face of a charity that works to highlight and counteract child poverty, a problem which is being made worse by the austerity policies pursued by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour.
Given that the treaty will mean an additional €6bn in cuts and taxes post-2015, I can see how Fergus would be conflicted. Does he stand by his party colleagues and vote for this treaty or does he stand by those experiencing the impact of cutbacks and oppose more austerity? So rather than confront this difficult question he chose to deliberately misrepresent Sinn Féin instead.
Sinn Féin does not want Ireland to be in any emergency funding programme — whether led by the EU or by the IMF. When the troika came to town in 2010 we opposed their austerity programme on the grounds that the State didn’t need it and that it would damage our economy and our society.
Unfortunately Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour have squandered much of the funds that were available to the State in 2010 and have left us in a position of having no alternative but to accept emergency funding from the troika.
Fine Gael and Labour have also failed to alter the terms and conditions of that bailout. As a result, they are implementing the same failed policies of crippling austerity and unlimited bank bailouts as their predecessors.
If, come 2014, the Government remains locked out of the sovereign bond markets it will be because the policy of austerity has failed.
Contrary to Government claims, if such an eventuality arises, emergency funding will be provided by the EU.
However, the real question facing the voters when they go to the polls on May 31 is whether they want to see even greater austerity heaped on the country? If the answer to that question is no, the logical thing to do is to reject the Austerity Treaty.
Jonathan O’Brien TD
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