Senior Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte misled RTÉ’s flagship news programme Morning Ireland today. His claim that the previous Government agreed to sell €5 Billion worth of state assets and that he and colleagues were required by the Troika to pursue an aggressive disposal of state assets is completely false.
Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Deputy Michael McGrath commented, “Pat Rabbitte gave a completely false account to listeners on this issue. In particular, his explicit claim that the last Government agreed to sell €5 Billion of state assets is simply wrong:
– The commitment to engage in an ambitious asset disposal programme was made by him and his Government.
– The commitment to sell €2 Billion in state assets was made by him and his Government in the Programme for Government.
– The commitment to use the proceeds of any sales to pay down debt rather than invest in jobs was made by him and his Government.
“These basic and critically important facts were confirmed by Minister Michael Noonan on October 5th last in Dáil Éireann and again by Troika representatives on 16th January 2012. In case Pat Rabbitte missed it, Minister Michael Noonan commented:
“No figure was included in the original memorandum of understanding. We included a figure of €2 billion in this regard in the programme for Government and we intend to realise that…. I do not believe there is an issue of blame. I am in favour of and welcome the sale of State assets. There is no blame attached.”
Deputy McGrath continued, “Pat Rabbitte may have got through his interview unscathed, but his bluster will not spare the blushes of the Labour Party. This ‘ambitious’ privatisation agenda was developed by Fine Gael and signed up to in full by the Labour Party. Rabbitte and others can continue to try to blame a Fianna Fáil bogeyman, but the facts are clear.
“Not only is the privatisation agenda a FG / Labour agenda, but the mess surrounding what the proceeds can be used for is entirely of their own making. It was Fine Gael and Labour who agreed to use the proceeds to pay down debt. Since that day, they have been trying to spin that ‘a significant proportion’ of proceeds could be used for job creation, but as recently as this morning Pat Rabbitte, the spinner-in-chief was unable to confirm a single Euro for investment.
“Labour have got themselves on a hook of their own design. Trying to blame Fianna Fáil, one year after they took up power, will fool no one.”