Conor McGuinness, Sinn Féin council group leader, said this evening that the party did not, and could not, support the proposed austerity budget for Waterford tonight, adding that it is investment and not cuts that are needed.
Councillor McGuinness said:
“Since the May election Sinn Féin has worked constructively with a wide range of groups and consulted widely on the budget.
“We were prepared to craft and pass a progressive and responsible budget that chimed with our political priorities.
“Then, at the 11th hour and with no prior warning, the Council was presented by central government with cuts amounting to a staggering €16.5m over the lifetime of the Council, with a €4m shortfall to be made up this year.
“This was as a result of the fiasco that is Irish Water and a refusal by the government to recognise the difficulty this imposes on the people of Waterford.
“The government then offered a once-off ‘grant’ of €2m, which still left the council facing cuts of €2m this year and next.
“This meant both rate increases and cuts in services.
“Small businesses would pay more while citizens would see cuts in housing maintenance and economic development.
“These cuts and increases in rates are unsustainable.
“Waterford City and County will have €14.5m less to spend over the next five years – while at the same time Cork would have an additional €15m, Galway an additional €12m, and Kilkenny an additional €4.5m.”
“Minister John Paul Phelan told Waterford councillors to dig deep and get on with the cuts – in other words, roll over.
“This is not what Sinn Féin councillors were elected to do.
“Sinn Fein will stand up for Waterford and will fight these cuts until they are reversed by central government.”
“If the government had reversed the cut, Sinn Féin stood ready to support the budget.
“But they didn’t and as such we were not in a position to support tonight’s budget.” I