In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett, TD for the People Before Profit Alliance and Finance spokesperson for the United Left Alliance, has reacted strongly to Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s comments made in Paris today (16th Marvh) that the austerity policy had now made Ireland more competitive and would see growth and investment as a result.

Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The Minister’s claims that austerity has lead to competitiveness are out of synch with everything that economic experts have been saying for the last two years: austerity causes economic contraction, not growth. Even the IMF have warned that austerity causes economic decline.” “Mr. Noonan is performing a sort of magical thinking when he says that austerity leads to competitiveness. The very term “competitiveness” obscures the reality of why the Irish economy contracted in the first place. The hundreds of thousands of jobs which have not been lost were not lost due to a lack of competitiveness. This sort of terminology and thinking belongs in the fantasy years of the Celtic Tiger – you can no longer fool people with this kind of false economics.”

“In January of this year the Irish Central Bank predicted a shrinkage of 0.7% in our gross national product next year, if we exclude the multinationals. The EU and the IMF have cut their GDP growth forecast for Ireland to 0.5% – and these are conservative estimates made by the very institutions who champion austerity.”

“At the EU level the projections are equally grim. There are no signs of recovery – in fact unemployment is set to rise by 0.3% across the EU this year. So to have the Finance minister speaking of the economy picking up ‘like a rocket’ if the world economy picks up, is like saying if donkeys could fly then they would fly high.”