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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 25 September, 2018
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Joan Burton: Vote Sinn Féin in and we might as well give the country back to the Troika

The Tánaiste has criticised Gerry Adams and his party this morning.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 10.35pm

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has sharply criticised Sinn Féin this morning, saying that giving the party responsibility for the economy would be as bad as the country returning to the Troika bailout.

The new Labour leader was responding to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’s claim last week that she was an “architect of austerity” who is no different to her predecessor Eamon Gilmore.

“In my view if people were to give control of the economy to Sinn Féin then they might as well hand the keys of the country back to the Troika,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

She said that the think-tank the ESRI had validated the government’s claim that core rates of social welfare have been protected over the last three years.

In a further attack on Sinn Féin she claimed that the party is “relentlessly opposed to any measures that help people back to work”.

“It’s almost as if they want a welfare economy rather than a working, vibrant economy,” she said.

The Tánaiste was speaking as Labour gathers for its parliamentary party think-in in Wexford today with the latest Red C opinion poll showing its support up one point.

Asked to highlight the difference between her and Eamon Gilmore, Burton said: ”We come from the same political party but I believe my focus has always been, both as an opposition TD, as a government minister, and now as leader is to to focus relentlessly on getting people back to work.”

On proposals for a ‘return-to-work dividend’ for parents who move off the social welfare system and into employment, Burton said it is a proposal that Fine Gael supports.

She explained: “I want to move to a situation where individuals and people with children move back to work.

“They get an additional incentive to tie them over the period when there’s a bit of uncertainty – moving from welfare to work – and they maintain extra supports.”

Burton said that the biggest difficulty facing people unemployed is being out of work long-term and having a “a gap in their CV”.  She said the proposed scheme, likely to cost around €20 million, is “not hugely costly”.

Burton also said she would “of course” like to see Gilmore and another former Labour leader and ex-minister Pat Rabbitte run at the next general election.

She said both were dropped from Cabinet in the reshuffle last July as she was “anxious to include some of the younger members”. 

Response

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said that Burton’s comments are “an attempt to gloss over the Labour Party’s failure, in government, to deliver for ordinary people”.

Deputy McDonald said:

I am a confident that those people who have suffered under the Labour Party in government will see through Joan Burton’s attack on Sinn Féin. I think the Tánaiste’s comments were clearly designed to deflect from her party’s failure to deliver since entering coalition in 2011. I would assert that it is fairly disingenuous of the leader of the Labour Party to say that Sinn Féin wants to see a ‘welfare economy’ when we have time and again presented strategies and ideas for getting our people back to work.

“Joan Burton, as leader of the Labour Party, will face her first real test with the forthcoming budget,” said McDonald.

First published 9.45am

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Read: Gerry Adams wants to see more all-island “joinedey-upness” in Sinn Féin

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Hugh O'Connell

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