A list of “rebranded and repackaged commitments”, full of “deliberately vague” language, and a worrying lack of costings, is how one local politician has described the new programme for government.
This is the view of Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis, Shared Future, the draft programme by the new administration of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Greens.
While he acknowledged that Shared Future contains “significant movement by the two main parties on environmental issues”, there is a FF/FG business as usual attitude to housing and health, with a “concerning overreliance on the private sector” in both areas.
'The draft programme fails to grasp the potential to dramatically improve healthcare, education, childcare, and housing services'
Cllr McNelis said the programme will mean “more of the same for our health service”, with Fianna Fáil using the National Treatment Purchase Fund to support private medicine rather than increase bed capacity in the public health service. “It seems this new Government,” he said, “will squander anything learned from taking over capacity in our private hospitals during this crisis by just pumping money into the NTPF instead.”
He said the programme was “worryingly vague” on housing, and only commits to 50,000 social housing units over five years, which is “much less than what is needed”.
He said Labour was also concerned about the lack of detail around how the new Government will protect the rights of workers as the State emerges from the Covid-19 crisis. “Stronger trade union rights and better terms and conditions need to be at the centre of any recovery,” he said. “For example, there is no outline of how they intend to reach a Living Wage over the next five years. Vague commitments cannot be relied upon.”
"In the midst of a global pandemic that has redefined and brought centre stage the essential role of the State in providing public services,” he said, “the draft programme fails to grasp the potential to dramatically improve healthcare, education, childcare, and housing services.”