MICHAEL NOONAN ATTACKED the economic policies of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin in a notable ramping up of pre-election rhetoric today.
The Finance Minster claimed there is a €1.24 billion “black hole” in Fianna Fáil’s budget numbers, describing it as the party’s “black hole of Calcutta” at a press conference this afternoon.
He said the opposition party’s budget costings have not allowed for the cost of public sector pay increases beyond 2018.
Noonan also questioned whether the independent consultants who costed Fianna Fáil’s proposals were told to ignore the discrepancy, and said:
They are either being deceptive or incompetent – I believe they’re being deceptive.
Fianna Fáil hit back earlier with TD Seán Fleming insisting his party is not allocating money for public sector pay increases after 2018 as this would give away its negotiating position with unions.
‘Gerry Adams Maths School’
Noonan also attacked Sinn Féin, saying its finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty is wrong to claim that Fine Gael has a €500 million hole in its proposal to abolish Universal Social Charge.
“It’s not enough to make an assertion, you have to prove it and there’s no point in saying that Fine Gael got the figures wrong unless you have the evidence for it,” Noonan said.
“Our figures were endorsed by the Department of Finance and we fully and completely stand over them.
I think Pearse’s problem is that he took his maths grinds or else went to night school at the ‘Gerry Adams Maths School’, I think that’s his problem. He should have gone to somebody who was smarter with the arithmetic than Gerry was.
“He’s wrong and he’s just making an allegation and he’s not standing it up.”
‘Con the electorate’
Doherty has hit back, insisting that Noonan is the one who has got his figures wrong.
He claimed on Twitter that Fine Gael’s proposals to increase the price of cigarettes have overestimated the yield from this measure.
In a statement the Donegal TD also said that Noonan is trying to “con the electorate”.
“Michael Noonan can bluster all he wants, but the reality is that he is wrong on his figures and he knows it,” Doherty said.
If he is confident in his figures, he should publish his costings from the Department of Finance on a phased out abolition of the USC. He has been trying to con the electorate in this campaign and he has been caught out badly not once, not twice, but three times.
He added that Noonan has been “a disaster” in the general election campaign.
Despite Fine Gael’s sharp five point drop in the polls since the election began, Noonan claimed that the campaign is “going very well”.
“I think the Taoiseach is putting in an exceptionally strong campaign,” he said.