Labour is clear and resolute on how to deal with public finances crisis

As a people, we have been left with no choice but to take action to deal with the crisis in our public finances. There is no escaping from this – it is, and will be a central truth of Irish political and economic life for years to come.

But while Fianna Fail have left the country with no choice on whether to take action on the deficit, we have got choices on how to do so.

Labour has been clear and resolute on this issue. Before the budget, we published details of how to address the deficit. Not through the kind of divisive and hopeless approach taken by the government, hitting the low-paid and the most vulnerable. We proposed an imaginative and socially just programme, which addressed the budgetary crisis in a way that could bring hope to the country through jobs and opportunity, rather than despondency and social division. And we have continued to offer credible and dynamic policy proposals to the Irish people – most recently through our plan for a National Investment Bank.

The government have had few successes during their two and a half years in office. But they have succeeded in one objective: to divide.

They have divided young from old; people with health cover from those with none; people with jobs from those without. Most of all, they have succeeded in an utterly cynical and despicable drive to foster division and mutual disrespect between public and private sector workers in our country.

Our plan is different. A Labour-led government will deal with the deficit – certainly we will. But we will do so in a way that puts people back to work, and in a way that brings hope rather than despair and resignation. And we will do so in a way that does not visit the harshest impact on our poorest and most vulnerable fellow citizens. We will work with, not against, our public servants and lead a programme of reform, not a campaign of slash and burn to vital public services.

Bringing stability to the public finances is a necessary task. But it is only one element of a necessary economic strategy. That’s what this motion is saying, and I urge delegates to support it.