VAGUE, disappointing and unambitious were some of the terms used by Violet Anne Wynne to describe the Programme for Government this week.
She claimed the concerns that were raised during the general election campaign are not being tackled. “I think the big issues of the election were ignored, affordable housing, the health service in crisis, the cost of childcare. Looking at it overall it’s very vague, there’s loads of flowery language about reviews and revisiting things but as for commitments and definitive targets, they seem to have left those figures out.”
The new Sinn Féin TD said that more affluent people are being looked after, rather than low and middle income families and individuals. “It contained a series of stealth taxes that will hit low-income households hardest. All the while, they plan to spend €123 million a year to provide a tax cut to individuals earning more than 100 thousand euro a year through the removal of the USC surcharge.
“To add insult,there are loopholes for banks, culture funds and speculators. It is incredulous that there is no mention of household debt considering the tsunami of debt facing households as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
On housing, Ms Wynne said “One of the key issues in the general election in February was housing and the document is a continuation of the failed Fine Gael Rebuilding Ireland housing plan. There are no targets for affordable housing, no definitions, prices or plans.
“There’s no increase in social housing delivery beyond existing National Development Plan targets. In fact, it’s 10,000 units less than in the Fine Gael Manifesto. With the housing crisis, it is shocking to also note that there is nothing concrete for renters in terms of rising rents or real security of tenure.”
She says that there are no signs of issues around the provision of childcare being tackled. “Frustratingly, childcare, in short, stays the same – high fees, low pay. The language used is vague. It states ‘the approach of European countries to fee caps will be examined.”
Those at retirement age are not having their issues dealt with either, she believes. “The programme says that ‘65 year olds who have to, or choose to retire, can get a payment at the same rate as jobseekers benefit but will not have to sign on or actively seek work’ – this does not go far enough, although 65 year olds will not have to sign on, they will receive €203 per week, instead of €248 per week.”
Summing up, she added, “The Programme for Government is disappointing and is not the change that people voted for.”