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Alan Kelly MEP ‘Desperate’ States Coonan

Alan Kelly

Fine Gael TD and Tipperary North/South Offaly Candidate, Noel Coonan, has sharply hit out at MEP Alan Kelly, latter currently still AWOL and on walk about from the real job, for which he was elected by the people of Munster at the last European elections.  Eamonn Gilmore’s ‘bright little hope’ and ready ‘scare mongerer’ in the Tipperary North/South Offaly constituency is claiming, in a  press release to Tipp FM this morning, that the Fine Gael Party and Fianna Fáil, if in office, will cut teacher numbers.

Mr Kelly is obviously retaliating today, having read this weeks Tipperary Star Newspaper, in which Deputy Maire Hoctor, whose Fianna Fáil party supporters, need a garda escort to enable them to go canvassing in Offaly, claims that the Labour party will close rural schools.

In this case, though it grieves me greatly to say it, Maire appears to be correct. Mr Kelly, who had the worst voting record in 2009 in Seanad Éireann, voting  just nine times out of a possible 55, appears to never read the Irish Independent, which published recently a report by his party colleague Deputy Quinn, (latter the ‘would be’ Education Minister in any unlikely Labour government,) that he favoured amalgamating small rural schools, using the HSE’s hospital ‘Centres of Excellence’ recipe model, latter which has left North Tipperary without any real medical services.

Thurles Information today contacted Deputy Coonan regarding this report and the Deputy laughingly stated:

The date for voting is getting ever so close and this is a desperate measure by Mr Alan Kelly, who is throwing about anything that he believes the public want to hear, instead of dealing honestly with the real problems facing the education sector. His claims are completely incorrect and are also hugely disappointing, coming as they do from an MEP, who has obviously not studied his homework. He should know at this stage that Fine Gael in power is in a position to credibly commit to an increase of 2,500 teachers from the 2010 levels by 2014 in order to maintain current pupil-teacher ratios.
The Labour MEP’s attacks on Fine Gael policy smacks of complete desperation and Alan Kelly’s untrue accusation further undermines his credibility, following his pledge to the people to serve as an MEP for five years, but backing away from this responsibility less than two years into his term of office.
Labour is a high tax party and, unlike Fine Gael, does not have any credible plan to fix the economy. Fine Gael is determined to protect vital front line services in the public sector, especially those provided by teachers in rural schools, and I think Mr Kelly would be better placed wasting his energy on formulating just one original policy of his own.
We in Fine Gael will cut spending levels across all Departments in order to protect the quality of the educational experience received by our children. We will not increase class sizes and to achieve this objective we will work with education partners to seek further efficiencies in work practices, in line with the Croke Park Agreement, and to devolve more power to school principals and teachers to make tight budgets go further.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael scored highest overall when it came to proposals for political reform according to the academic group, Reformcard, who examined proposals under five headings: Oireachtas, Electoral, Open Government, Public Sector and Local Government Reform and marked each party’s plans out of 100 marks.
Fine Gael was ahead on the group’s ratings for political reform plans with an overall score of 73 out of 100. Labour followed on 68, Fianna Fáil on 58, the Green Party on 53 while Sinn Féin was on a low 26 on the scoreboard.
Fine Gael pledges to open all government data, protect whistleblowers, make public sector budgets more accountable and appoint a minister of Public Service reform, greatly impressed this group.

And speaking about inadequate medical services, we asked Deputy Coonan about his future hopes for North Tipperary medical services, to which the Deputy stated:

It is more than five years since the announcement of Minister Harney’s co-location plan and not one of the promised beds has yet been put in place. Fine Gael will protect A&E. No A&E services will be withdrawn unless a demonstrably better service is put in place and is seen to work. This will secure services in Nenagh Hospital, an issue which I have fought for all my political life.
Fine Gael’s ultimate goal is to establish a system of Universal Health Insurance (UHI), based on the very efficient Dutch model but adapted to Irish circumstances. Once UHI is introduced the unfair and inefficient two-tier health system will be totally eliminated. Patients will be treated on the basis of medical need; not on the basis of how much money they have. There will be one strong public health system, where the state guarantees the level of service and quality and competing insurance companies are responsible for much of its administration.
Fine Gael will give local hospitals such as Nenagh Hospital more control. Under FairCare individual or networks of hospitals will be managed by hospital trusts, where patients, staff and members of the local community have a real say in the services delivered and in the development of the hospital. We will reduce bureaucracy, prevent waste and cut the cost of drugs.

The Deputy further stated: “For too long Mental Health has been the ‘Cinderella’ of the Irish health service. Fine Gael are committed to reducing the stigma of mental illness, ensuring early and appropriate intervention and vastly improving access to modern mental health services in the community. Fine Gael will close unsuitable psychiatric institutions moving patients to more appropriate community-based facilities. Resources, arising from the sale of psychiatric institutions, will be ring-fenced for the development of mental health services. A vote for Fine Gael in this General election is truly a vote for a fairer and more efficient health-care system.

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