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Economic Recession?

24 June 2008

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: I support my colleagues on this side of the House who have called for a debate on the economy. It is clear we are in recession. We have had enough of the patronising words of those on the other side of the House who suggest we are talking down the economy, and that we should not do so because it is harming the economy. It is clear who has caused the harm. It is interesting that Government speakers are trying to blame the current state of the economy on the international context. They were not slow to take credit for the boom years. When we had the boom, they did not point out that it had an international context. It is clear the Government has blown the boom, as other Senators have said.

I would like to be constructive, as the Minister for Finance asked us to be in his moment of self-pity last week. I suggest we should have a debate on what to do about this problem. Are there obvious ways in which the Minister for Finance could save the Exchequer money? As others have mentioned, an obvious way to do that would be to reverse the roll-out of the decentralisation programme. The programme, which has run into the sand, in effect, is costing the Exchequer a large amount of money without any discernible benefit.

Perhaps we should examine crime policy as an area in which money could be saved. That is especially relevant this week, as we debate the enormous super-prison site in Thornton Hall in north Dublin. We have seen the move in recent years from a due process model of criminal justice to a crime control model. That costs a considerable amount of money and the benefits to us, and to victims of crime, are minimal and have yet to be proven empirically.

We can look at ways of saving money and improving the economic situation but I do not think we need to hear either whingeing from the Minister for Finance or pomposity and patronising from the Government on this.