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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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Fine Gael and Labour are 'austerity junkies' failing to attract investment - Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féín has called on the government to access more funding from the European Investment Bank to stimulate job creation.

Pearse Doherty (File photo)
Pearse Doherty (File photo)
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT IS failing to access vital job creation funds from the European Investment Bank, according to Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty.

Doherty said the Fine Gael and Labour government was “lacking in ambition” when it came to its approach to increasing investment in Ireland.

He was speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s ‘Real Investment, Real Jobs, Real Recovery’ document.

“This government and the previous government failed to access vital funds that could have been used to get people back to work … It’s very clear that the government can do more and it must do more,” Doherty said.

“At the core of our current jobs crisis is a lack of investment. Since the start of the crisis, public and private investment has fallen dramatically.

“In 2011 Ireland was at the bottom of the EU and OECD league table for investment. Sinn Féin has long argued that in the absence of private sector investment the government must fill the vacuum and use all available resources to invest in getting people back to work,” he stated.

Doherty said that when Sinn Féin’s jobs spokesperson Peadar Tóibin called the EIB, the bank wanted to come to Ireland to discuss increasing investment “until we had to tell them we were not the government”.

He also called on the government to access the almost €6 billion in the National Pension Reserve Fund to help stimulate the economy.

Signs of recovery

Despite the criticism, the Donegal TD welcomed ESRI’s recent assessment that gross national product will grow by 3.5 per cent this year, but he said more needs to be done.

Sinn Féin MEP candidate Matt Carthy was also at the launch and noted that signs of recovery were largely in the east of the country:

“None of the [green] shoots have managed to make their way into the Doneagals and the Mayo.”

Doherty said that the government’s target of getting unemployment below 10 per cent did not go far enough.

“What we feel the government is lacking is ambition,” Doherty stated, adding that it should “stop crucifying additional people through charges” such as property tax.

“This government are austerity junkies,” he added.

Unemployment

Tóibín commented that the creation of 30,000 jobs since the current government came to office is not enough.

He claimed that if you take into account the 250,000 people who have emigrated in the last four years and those on JobBridge or similar work schemes, the unemployment rate would be 22 per cent, not 11.8 per cent.

“The purpose of this [document] is to get people back to work now,” Tóibín said, adding that it would give Ireland a “competitive advantage”.

At present, the EIB invests in deals alongside a joint venture partner on a 50:50 basis. Doherty called for this ratio to changed to 75:25 for countries where the unemployment rate is higher than the EU average, such as in Ireland.

Water charges

On the subject of water charges, Carthy said:

“Labour are upset that Fine Gael let the cat out of the bag before 23 May,” adding that members of the junior coalition party were crying “crocodile tears”.

Tóibín said that the government needed to address the fact that 43 pc of our water leaks and many of the country’s houses have inadequate heat retention.

He said each house could be retro-fitted at a cost of €10,000 per house to help families save roughly €1,400 a year on electricity bills.

Read: €2 billion budget cuts can be avoided* says ESRI

Analysis: The one thing you need to remember about the water row? There’s an election in 36 days

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Órla Ryan

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