The Exchequer surplus of nearly €2 billion is good news, and flattered by the sale of AIB shares, but it stands in stark contrast to the ongoing crisis in housing, health and the damage caused by recent floods.
“Leprechaun economics continues to haunt Ireland as Minister Donohoe sits on his pot of gold while public services urgently need investment.
“2017 confirms that the figures have been very good and show the continued improvement in the economy, however the quandary is notwithstanding some effort from the Government they have been unable to seriously influence the construction of new social and affordable homes.
“The flattering end of year returns also stands in contrast with the unprecedented crisis facing the health service as the cost of servicing our national debt has plummeted.
“And as we saw in recent days the failure to adequately build and invest in flood defences and climate proof our economy is causing huge disruption.
“The fundamental issue for this Government now is their failure to invest. The State has to take the lead in solving problems for citizens instead of simply promising tax cuts when what people need is decent services.
“It is my contention that the corporate sector in Ireland is still not making a sufficient contribution and the recent revelation that some large companies are paying no tax is a scandal that needs to be addressed.
“The international climate in relation to blatant tax avoidance has changed and Ireland has to respond to that. The Labour Party has made detailed proposals to provide for an ongoing examination of tax loopholes and avoidance that should be acted on.
“This Government now finds itself in a position where it is promising the sky and all, but when it comes to essentials it is not delivering for people on the ground.
“That non-delivery is at the core of inequality in Ireland. For example, with the social insurance fund in surplus there is a need to invest in skills and in particular in apprenticeships to ensure the construction industry can provide the homes now needed and that those young people not in third level can get a first class training and real opportunities.”