What have Labour ever done for us?

The shock resignation of ‘Super’ Junior Minister for Housing Willie Penrose in recent weeks has rocked the Labour Party in the lead up to the first Budget which the Coalition will soon deliver.

Labour backbenchers, councillors, and activists throughout the State have been “taking it in the neck” from the public who are incensed with the “kite flying” emanating from all Government departments.

It goes without saying that the upcoming Budget will be one of severe austerity and will be deeply unpalatable for all sectors of society. The smaller party of coalition is always recognised as the one which will lose out in the long run, but Labour has a proud record of sorting out the finances of the Republic and has never shirked its responsibility to the Irish people with prudent politics.

Insider believes that the electorate are fully aware that wholesale austerity measures are coming down the line, but in reality, for the sake of future generations, it will be this generation that suffers until finances improve.

Labour is part of a Government that is working every day to fix our economic and financial problems. The party promised that it would lay the foundations for the recovery and if we take a more detailed look it can be seen that it is already delivering:

* Labour promised it would restore the minimum wage and it has delivered.

* Labour promised it would renegotiate the deal with the European Union and it has delivered.

* It promised to seek a one per cent reduction in the interest rate on our debt, and it delivered. In fact Labour got a reduction of 2.5 per cent, at a value of €10 billion to the people of this State.

* Labour promised widespread reform and although it is just a few months into their term of office it has already begun to deliver. The party has:

· Reduced the pay of the Taoiseach and ministers

· Cut spending on ministers’ transport

· Reformed the way senior civil servants are appointed

· Cut retirement packages for secretaries general

· Introduced pay ceilings for senior public servants

· Reduced the number of Oireachtas committees

· Reduced future Public Service pensions costs

· Published legislation to reduce judges’ pay in line with reductions in public sector pay

· Put a cap on semi-state pay

Labour has also been clear since it came into office, that it will not solve the banking problem or the fiscal problem unless it gets the economy moving again, and unless it can create jobs for our people. At all times, the strategy has been to confront these issues in a co-ordinated way.

That is why, even in the middle of a demanding budgetary process, the coalition cabinet has reviewed the jobs agenda to make sure that progress is being made, with the announcement of:

· The establishment of a micro finance loan fund to generate up to €100 million in additional micro-enterprise lending which will benefit more than 5,000 businesses over a 10 year period. The Fund will be in place in the first quarter of 2012

· The establishment of a temporary partial credit guarantee scheme. Minister Richard Bruton will now proceed to draft legislation and shortly appoint an operator for the scheme which will also be in place in the first quarter of next year. The scheme will be demand-led, and per €100 million guaranteed will benefit more than 1,200 businesses, and provide at least €15 million in net benefit to the exchequer.

· A second call worth approximately €60 million under Innovation Fund Ireland is also to take place in Q1 2012, after the recent finalisation of the capital budgets of Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The Government also approved the report of the Second Global Irish Economic Forum, which was held in Dublin Castle in October. In particular, the Government endorsed 12 initiatives which will be prioritised for action between now and March 2012. Including:

· A World Actors Forum, ‘a Davos for the arts’, to be held in Ireland starting in 2014 which would help to build upon the work of The Gathering.

· Síol a Koret style model to encourage investment into Ireland to provide loans to small businesses from the Diaspora as a springboard for start ups.

When Labour came into Government it made one over-riding commitment to the Irish people – to fix the economy and create jobs. That has been their clear focus, and it is succeeding.

The weight that the coalition and the citizens of the State have been asked to lift is huge and the public have a right to ask what is the moral justification that the Irish people should have been saddled with tens of billions of euro of private debts by private institutions in private deals between private speculators for private profit.

Seanie, Fingers and and Drumm are still as free as the wind. Some people crave for justice not just food!

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