Should we expect the Govt’s ‘single transferable speech’?

We face a spectacle later when there will be a debate in both Houses on the economy and I suspect we will be treated to a contribution from the Government along the lines of the single transferable speech on the economy to which we have been listening in the House for three or four months. I hope I am wrong and if I am, I will accept it. However, I do not expect the Minister to come to the House later to outline what the Government intends to do regarding the economy. However, at the same time, the Government is circulating a document to the social partners which will not be laid before the Oireachtas. Such proposals should be circulated by way of a completed document to the social partners that is published and laid before both Houses in order that we can have a meaningful and realistic debate.

I understand the process of negotiation as well as the next person and the necessity for people to be careful during negotiations. However, this relates to the future of the economy, the single most important issue facing any politician or government. We are not clear on whether any proposals have been made. However, we read newspaper reports about various decisions that will be made.

They were then denied by Ministers as late as this morning saying it was just newspaper speculation. Apparently there was a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party last night at which the members of that party indicated to the Taoiseach that they supported his ‘approach’ to dealing with the economy. What is that approach? Perhaps some of the Members on the Government side will share some of the information as to what the approach is to dealing with the economy because it has not been published to the people. It has been described by people who have caught glimpses of it in the social partnership talks as a blancmange. What exactly is it and where are the proposals?

It ill behoves the Government, whether Fianna Fáil, the Green Party or any other member, to demand the answers from the Opposition in circumstances where it has tabled no proposals whatever to address, for example, the crisis in the public finances. For the Government to come in this afternoon with a platitudinous and single transferable speech containing no specifics or clarity is not acceptable in any democracy.

More :: There will be a debate in the Seanad on the current economic situation this evening from approx. 4.45 p.m. To view the proceedings, click here.