Today I will be voting as follows.
Leo Varadkar 1.
Catherine Noone 2.
Joan Burton 3.
The last eight years have been exceptionally difficult for many people in this country. Personally I will never forget the sense of humiliation I felt, as a proud Irishman, watching the troika arrive in this country. I feared at the time that we were looking at a twenty year recession. Thankfully, this has not materialised. The reason this did not happen, in my view, is that we have had a government, with an obsessive commitment to the national interest. Some will say there was an easy way to make the enormous financial adjustment the country had to make. However most people realise this is not true, especially considering that we went from a country that took in €60bn in taxes during the boom, to one that took in about €35bn by 2011. The only solution to this challenge, was to the grow the economy to make up the difference, and the only way to do this was to focus on jobs.
Focusing on a “Jobs first” policy, was something the government did exceptionally well. #Allaboutjobs was not just a slogan or a twitter trend. It was a policy objective aimed at solving the financial crisis. Creating one job is a triple victory for the state. One jobs means that a person is no longer being paid social welfare, it also means that that person is paying income tax, and that they are in a position to spend in the economy. The government from the beginning focused on jobs. They did not raise income tax in 2011 despite pressure from the troika and they reversed the cut in the minimum wage. As soon as the economy allowed they reduced the Universal Social Charge in budgets 2014 and 2015. Likewise, Fine Gael’s further commitment to abolish the USC over the next five years, is not a “give away” as some of our opponents have claimed, it is in fact part of the same jobs promotion policy that wants to remove job killing taxes. New jobs more than any other factor is what fixed our national finances.
Most importantly however, the government recognised that the economic model pursued by the previous government focused excessively on building and banking as a source of revenue. This could never last. Fine Gael and Labour instead shifted the focus of our economy to exports agriculture and tourism. The decision by Leo Varadkar to reduce VAT to 9% was instrumental in the tourism boom we are currently experiencing. As a result of this shift which has dramatically improved our national finances the next government is in an emphatically better position to tackle the many issues that the country faces. I see this every day as a Councillor. Every service that the council provides is better funded today than it was three years ago because of the sound economic management of the economy by the government and I very much hope that this continues.
It is this long term vision that sets this government apart from the opposition. This can be seen in the Dublin West constituency as well. During the boom years the Fianna Fail governments built thousands of houses is Dublin west with little regard for the infrastructure which must accompany it. However this changed under this government as new schools (5 in total) and roads became the priority. It was also very pleasing to see Minister Varadkar reintroduce the Sports Capital Grants program which benefited many local clubs in Dublin 15.
It is for this and many other reasons that I hope Leo Varadkar will be returned as our TD. I will also be voting for Senator Catherine Noone because I have come to respect her greatly in recent months and the hard work she does in the Senate particularly in relation to European affairs. Whilst canvassing with Catherine I came to appreciate how strongly she feels about issues such as womens health and childcare costs. I will also be voting for Joan Burton as I believe for the last five years she always put the country first unlike so many others who clearly but General election 2016 first. So please get out there and vote. It is an empowering and rewarding experience and one which you should be a part of.
Cllr Ted Leddy