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FG refuses to abide by four-year plan - but seeks 'truce'

The finance spokesperson says the government can’t hold the opposition to its plans – while senators seek co-operation.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive

THE OPPOSITION PARTIES have said they will not feel bound by the government’s four-year budget plan to be announced in November, despite the fact that the government will have to liaise with Brussels to compile the plan.

Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan said the government couldn’t count on the support of the opposition because the plan would outlive the current government.

“Without seeing the documents that he’s going to produce in November, I’m not going to make any commitment to the ways and means of getting to the destination which he will outline,” he said, according to the Irish Times.

The Labour finance spokesperson Joan Burton said the government needed to make confidential arrangements to discuss its plan with all other parties, commenting that it was tantamount to “national sabotage” for the opposition not to be briefed.

The calls came as Fine Gael senators appealed for a political truce as the government outlined its financial strategy, appealing for cross-party co-operation to safeguard the national finances.

Paschal Donohoe made the call in the Seanad yesterday, as part of a debate on the state of the national economy in the wake of confirmation on the total cost of the banking bailout.

“We must find a new way of working together and create new institutions and a new culture that will make that happen,” he told the Seanad. “A definition of insanity is often offered to be to do the same thing again and again and to expect a different result.

“We are facing such a crisis in our country that it is incumbent on all of us to reflect on how we do our business and to find a way to change that to keep our country secure.”

His calls were supported by Fine Gael colleague Paul Bradford, who said it was “not a Tallaght strategy or a national government we need to speak about, but we certainly need to speak about a new type of politics.”

While there was a need to set aside a date next Autumn for a general election, he said, “between now and then, we should put petty party politics aside and decide to put Ireland first. Politics can wait and elections can wait, but Ireland cannot wait. It is as serious as that.”

The appeal was endorsed by Fianna Fáil senator Terry Leyden, who said cross-party cooperation was more needed now than when the ‘Tallaght Strategy’ was adopted by Fine Gael in 1987, where it agreed to support financial reform measures proposed by the Fianna Fáil government.

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Gavan Reilly

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