Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has said that Minister Michael Noonan’s recent comments about the EU’s illogical austerity rules will not fool anyone into believing he has joined the anti-austerity ranks.

Deputy Crowe said the Minster Noonan has implemented austerity for four years without flinching in the face of huge social and economic costs, and his new found concerns are obviously a ploy with the forthcoming election in mind.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The Minister for Finance, in an attempted to give himself a new look, has told us that he will press the European Commission to extend greater budget flexibility to all EU member states at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday

“Some cynics would say it is a little late in the day for Minister Noonan to be getting worried about the austerity rules. He has been a cheerleader for them and has implemented them with gusto in this State. He has supported them regardless of the hardship or social and economic toll they have taken on the Irish people over the years.

“Some would also suggest that Minister Noonan has, like any well-trained and programmed bureaucrat, jumped through every austerity hoop that Europe and the Troika has erected over the last four years.

“Minister Noonan is one of the longest serving Finance Ministers in the EU and one of the architects of these austere rules, but now he wants us to believe that he somehow didn’t really mean it. He has been misunderstood and is actually opposed to the big boys and girls in Europe. His hard-line approach to Greece is also a brilliantly conceived strategy to actually support the Greek people and by extension the left wing Government of Syriza.

“If the newly converted Minister Noonan is seriously prepared to take up that battle and no matter how late in the day it is, Sinn Féin will undoubtedly support and help guide him along that path to a real recovery.

“However it’s hard to draw any other conclusion then that this Government is unhappy that new so-called EU ‘expenditure benchmarks’ will limit any last ditch tax cuts to the wealthy that he is proposing to bring in.

“The reality behind Minister Noonan’s remarks is that he and his Government are more than happy to implement austerity rules when it means social spending cuts, but suddenly have an issue when the rules stop them giving more tax cuts to their wealthy backers before an election.”