“THE pips are beginning to squeak in a lot of areas. People are under enormous pressure,” conceded Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte at the Laois/Offaly Labour Party annual constituency meeting last Friday night where Tullamore’s David Whelan was elected Chairperson.
Referring to the enconomy, Minister Rabbitte said his belief was people would tolerate the pressure - “provided they can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
But he admitted, “Some of the things that Labour have to stomach are very hard to stomach, I have to say.”
The attendance also included Minister of State for Transport and Tourism Alan Kelly, Senator John Whelan, Edenderry Town Councillor Declan Leddin and Tullamore Town Councillor Lar Byrne.
The venue was the Portlaoise Resource Centre in the sprawling Knockmay housing estate, territory long cultivated by Sinn Fein’s Deputy Brian Stanley.
Argued Minister Rabbitte, “It’s an unprecedented period in history. If we don’t comply, they (IMF/EU) won’t sign the cheque.” He went on, “We are depending on the kindness of strangers to fund our Gardai, nurses and prison officers. Fianna Fail in 2010 ceded our sovereignty to outside sources. It’s ironic - Fianna Fail surrendering our national sovereignty.
“We got a new Government a year ago. We did not get a new economy. I get very irritated when I hear people saying we cannot keep blaming the previous Government for the mess. We still have the mess. We are stuck with the debt. Vincent Brown and his panel can say we can turn the key and walk away--but look at Greece.”
On a brighter note, Minister Rabbitte said we had a functioning economy with an 1.8m-strong workforce. People were better educated. We had a great deal of advantages.
“I am absolutely satisified that our economy will grow faster than any similar economy if the euro crisis is resolved,” he said. “We have to get the stabilization of the euro.” On property tax, he said Ireland was the only EU country without one.
The Minister continued, “What I would say to people who are finding it difficult, is that we cannot turn it (economy) around as quickly as we would like. We can’t have the investment now that was the case in the past when the Government could go to the market and source money ourselves.”
He concluded, “Our objective is to wave goodbye to the IMF at Dublin airport.”
There was a perception in Laois/Offaly that Labour had an “agenda against the Catholic Church,” a speaker claimed and Minister Rabbitte replied, “You can never help what people’s perceptions area. It just strikes me that that the decision to close the Vatican embassy is heaven sent for the media.”
Minister Rabbitte extolled local Senator John Whelan and pointed to Senator Whelan’s impressive general election peformance in “what was not propitious territory for Labour.”
The Minister described the Senator as a “diligent attender and hard worker in Leinster House.”
Officers elected at Laois/Offaly Labour party annual consituency meeting: Chairman, David Whelan, Tullamore; Vice Chairman, Noel Tuohy, Portlaoise; Secretary, Lisa Delaney, Mountmellick; Treasurer, Joe Murphy, Portlaoise; Asst Treasurer, Paddy Doheny, Tullamore; Constituency Delegate, Margaret Guijt-Lalor, Portarlington; Youth Officer, Noel Tuohy Jnr, Portlaoise; Women’s Officer, Grainne Corcoran, Portlaoise.