GOVERNMENT MINISTERS HAVE reacted to Táinaiste Eamon Gilmore’s claim that ‘austerity hawks’ have attempted to use Ireland as a kind of economic experiment.
In an interview with the Financial Times (subscription required), Gilmore said that the proposed €3.1 billion in cuts in the forthcoming budget is not needed to achieve the stated deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP by 2015.
“We will not let the Irish economy become some type of economic experiment for austerity hawks,” he told a Dublin-based FT reporter. “Austerity alone is not sufficient for economic recovery or social stability.”
The Labour leader went on to say that the Government should not pursue any further cuts beyond what is required of the Government to introduce.
“The only argument that has been put forward for (€3.1 billion in cuts) is: ‘Let’s see how far you can drive the speedometer.’ Well, we are not an economic experiment in this country,” he said.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton was asked about the Táinaiste’s comments while on a referendum campaign walkabout today and defended the work of the Government before agreeing that there has indeed been a degree of ‘experimentation’ during Ireland’s bailout process:
Yes it’s true that there has been a degree of experimentation and learning here but I think that the Irish Government has managed that process well and has negotiated big improvements in the conditions and they have been part of our ability to turn employment to a more positive direction.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar would not be drawn on the Táinaiste’s words saying he would rather read their context before commenting.
Speaking on the approaching budget, Minister Bruton said that no decisions had yet being made by cabinet:
The Government is yet to make decisions at cabinet. We know there are views coming from the Independent Fiscal Council, there are alternative views coming from organisations like TASC and obviously it’s the duty of the Government to asses both submissions from people but also the objective evidence and make decision based on the very latest information.
In the same Financial Times interview the Táinaiste also hinted he would like to see that former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet called before the Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crisis. Minister Bruton was also asked about that prospect: