Unemployment reaches 12% – Varadkar
Unemployment has reached 11.9% in what Fine Gael’s Enterprise Spokesman Leo Varadkar described as ‘the darkest day of the worst recession in living memory’, with 413,500 people now signing on the live register.
“Unemployment in Ireland is now the second highest in Europe at 11.9%. Only Spain has higher unemployment. This is further evidence that Ireland is experiencing a much deeper recession than any other country. This is due to a decade of gross economic mismanagement under Fianna Fáil.”
Deputy Varadkar said the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition is now bereft of political capital. A growing number of national and international organisations have criticised Fianna Fáil’s approach, including:
• The IMF, which described Ireland as ‘the most overheated of all advanced economies’ and ‘the most expensive location in the eurozone’, warned of the collapse in Irish exports, and pointed the finger of blame firmly at Brian Cowen;
• The CSO’s national quarterly accounts, which revealed a staggering 12% slump in Gross National Product;
• The OECD, which warned that GDP will have fallen by 14% by 2010;
• And the Competition Authority and the ESRI, which have both warned that competitiveness is the biggest obstacle for Ireland’s return to growth.
“Of particular concern is the rising number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, which now stands at 190,173, an increase of almost 100,000 in the past year. This figure represents the long-term unemployed: people whose PRSI stamps have run out or who did not work for long enough to quality for a non-means tested benefit.
“Long-term unemployment is the human price of economic mismanagement and can lead to higher crime, ill-health, and family and social breakdown. Fianna Fáil must start making training or community employment available to all long-term unemployed.”
Deputy Varadkar said the Government must urgently adopt Fine Gael’s policies to restore competitiveness and stimulate consumer demand. This includes bolstering capital spending by investing the pension fund in new State enterprises for green energy, broadband and water, and reductions in spending to allow cuts in VAT and employers’ PRSI. Fine Gael is also calling for the abolition of the Travel Tax, the creation of a National Recovery Bank to restore credit lines to small business and homebuyers, and a plan to reduce Government-imposed costs on small business.