Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson has accused the Dublin government of treating the Irish people as fools after revelations about the massive costs of recent controversial state visits.
Twenty-Six County justice minister Alan Shatter has been forced to concede that the cost to the tax-payer for the state visits by Elizabeth Windsor and Barak Obama in May will now be nearly twice the original estimate.
In front of a Leinster House committee, Shatter admitted that the total bill will now be €36 million [£32 million]. The original figure of €20 million [£18 million] has been well exceeded. Yet, prior to the visits, republicans and socialists were questioning whether €20 million would be the final cost to the tax-payer.
Leeson said: “Naturally, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition and their allies in the corporate media cynically downplayed any likelihood in an escalation of the cost of the visits. The full nature of their cynicism has now been exposed. The ratcheting up of the bill by €16 million is clearly a trivial matter to these politicians.
“The coalition government in Leinster House will no doubt think they can wriggle out of this injustice. €20 million should never have been spent in the first place while vital public services go without adequate funding or are closing on a weekly basis. At the moment, for example, Roscommon Hospital is facing the axe.
“Now we have the announcement that an additional €16 million [£14 million] will be tagged onto the final bill for the visits. All this without a whimper from those who ferociously pushed the financial benefit of the visits. Will those who have squandered this cash be held to account? The answer is of course they won’t.
“On the one hand, the political establishment can grossly overspend on chauffeuring two of the so-called great and the good around the state. Yet the same establishment is launching vicious attacks, most notably in the public sector, which they deem to be over-spending and wasting vital funds.”
Leeson added: “The sum of €36 million that has been wasted is by no means the total loss of money to the state. €36 million is solely the cost of security for the state visits. The net loss, including to county councils, the Office of Public Works and businesses has not been quantified, and most likely never will be.”
Lesson concluded by saying that the myth that tourism from the visits would signal a boost in revenue has been dispelled.
“Whatever way the Dublin government attempts to spin it, people in the Twenty-Six Counties did not and will not see any benefits from these visits. While the cost to the tax-payer is clear, we have yet to see a single solid figure put on the alleged huge boost to tourism.
“These exercises in pomp and ceremony were never about boosting tourism. Both were merely attempts at propaganda coups. The costlier of the two visits, that of Elizabeth Windsor, was an attempt to normalise the continued illegal occupation of the Six Counties.
“Barak Obama’s visit came at a convenient time for him. With his attempt to secure a second term in the White House next year, Obama’s advisors were well aware that the Irish-American vote is easily suckered by the sight of their president swilling pints of Guinness and visiting quaint rural Irish villages.
“However both visits did share a similar theme. They both served the purpose of distracting citizens in the Twenty-Six Counties from the financial chaos the state is in. They put a sheen on the honeymoon period of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition’s first 100 days in office.
“It is becoming ever more obvious that the Dublin government has not got the interests of working people at heart. It is breaking pre-election promises at a whim after only five months in office.
“The state visits by Windsor and Obama were nothing more than an attempt to foster subservience to the political and economic establishment. It is time to throw off this subservience.”
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