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Leaders' Questions

Gilmore criticised for “back-slapping fest” to mark one-year anniversary

The job losses at AIB dominate Leaders’ Questions, as the Tánaiste admits bank restructuring meant job losses were needed.

THE TÁNAISTE has dismissed suggestions that his press event with the Taoiseach yesterday, to mark the Fine Gael-Labour coalition’s first year in office, was a “back-slapping fest”.

The accusations came from Sinn Féin’s Peadar Toibín, who accused the government of necessitating the loss of jobs at State-owned AIB bank while channelling public funds into the repayment of promissory notes for other banks.

News of the job losses at AIB dominated the Thursday morning session of Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.

“You’re spending seven times more money on this promissory note, than all the money you’ll spend on the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the Shannon Development Authority, and the county enterprise boards, for one year,” Toibín charged.

“It is time the government started investing in, and fixing, the real economy.”

“It’s a great pity that the Sinn Féin party didn’t think of that three years ago, when you voted for the bank guarantee,” Gilmore said in response, adding: “Political slagging and slogans are not going to get people back to work.”

Gilmore said the government had been working to encourage foreign investment in Ireland which he said would be encouraged if the public voted in favour of ratifying the forthcoming referendum on the Fiscal Compact treaty.

Banking sector

Earlier, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary had complained that AIB staff had only learned of the scale of the proposed redundancies through a report on Bloomberg yesterday instead of through the bank itself, or the government as its main shareholder.

“As a result of the restructuring that has been necessitated in the banking sector, there was going to be a reduction of the numbers working in the Irish banks,” the Tánaiste had conceded, adding that the news would be “extremely upsetting” for AIB workers.

Finian McGrath, representing the technical group, had asked about the government’s plans to tackle gangland crime, asking: “Have we to wait for the deaths of more innocent people before we get a response to this issue?”

Gilmore said the government had been working on changing the ways in which Gardaí were deployed in an effort to change the response to crimes, and added that ideally Gardaí would be “out working with communities so they are able to assemble the evidence that is needed”.

Read: AIB confirms plan to seek 2,500 voluntary redundancies >

More: FG cancels ‘year in power’ photocall after Rabbitte criticises ‘silly’ event >

Gallery: Enda Kenny finds alternative photoshoot >

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