Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Billy Kelleher has said the latest National Competitiveness Council (NCC) report once again demonstrates the blinkered view that many Fine Gael ministers have about the Irish economy.

Deputy Kelleher added, “The report is crystal clear – the Irish economy is up against a series of major deficiencies in competitiveness.

“Every few days, we see yet another member of the Fine Gael spin team popping up to tell us there is nothing to see, no challenges to address, and that everything is hunky dorey.

“They are blinkered in their view, and that is incredibly dangerous for the Irish economy. We cannot risk returning the Irish economy to another boom and bust economic cycle.

The NCC’s latest report, Costs of Doing Business in Ireland 2018 confirms that ‘Ireland remains an expensive location in which to do business with a price profile which could be described as high cost and rising.’

“Brexit, infrastructure deficits, the highest childcare costs in the developed world, low female labour force participation, rising business costs, skills shortages are all highlighted by the NCC report.

“There’s no ambiguity in this, yet if one listened to successive Fine Gael spokesperson, one would think there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for Ireland economically.

“Irish consumer prices in 2017 were 24% above the EU average, which the report believes will lead to a ‘vicious circle of increasing prices, reducing real incomes, increasing wage demands and reduced international cost competitiveness.’

“This report isn’t an outlier. Successive reports from a variety of sources articulate the challenges the Irish economy is facing as a result of reduced competitiveness.

“Only yesterday, the OECD’s economic forecast for the country signalled signs of overheating in the economy, another property bubble, rising inflation and the immediate risk of Brexit.

“We must learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure that they are not repeated. A worrying trend is how the Government depend on external factors to enhance cost competitiveness. It’s simply not sustainable and ignores the work that can be done by the State to increase our competitiveness.

“Fine Gael in opposition were never shy about highlighting competitiveness threats in the economy but now that they have real power, their heads are continually stuck in the sand,” concluded Kelleher.