SUNSHINE AND TAOISEACH’S WHISTLE STOP TOUR BRINGS OUT THE CROWDS
Glorious sunshine and a large crowd went hand in hand for the visit of An Taoiseach Brian Cowen to Mitchelstown last Friday. But not everybody was happy to see him.
The Taoiseach arrived just after midday as part of his nationwide tour to promote a ‘Yes vote’ in the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum. Local TD Ned O’Keeffe was on hand to welcome Mr Cowen who, after a press call in the town square, called into Reidy’s SuperValu before making his way to the Dairygold Plant on the Clonmel Road.
However, not everybody was happy to welcome Brian Cowen to Mitchelstown. “Why do people on social welfare have to pay for your mistakes Mr Cowen?” asked local community activist Timmy ‘Rancher’ White as the Taoiseach arrived.
Holding a placard with the same question written on it, Timmy confronted the Taoiseach as he left his car and was greeted by Ned O’Keeffe TD. The Taoiseach did not reply to the ‘Rancher’s’ comments. Some of the customers that use the Rural Bus service were also there to highlight how important the service is to the people in rural and isolated communities.
“There has been talk of cuts to the Rural Bus service and we wanted to let the Taoiseach know just how important the service is to the people of this area,” Marie O’Connor of Rural Bus told The Avondhu. Deputy Ned O’Keeffe was delighted to welcome the Taoiseach to Mitchelstown.
“The reaction from the people of Mitchelstown to the Taoiseach’s visit was very positive and I would like to pay tribute to the local Fianna Fail cumann for organising the visit so well. He was very sympathetic to the Rural Bus people and took on board their concerns,” Deputy O’Keeffe told The Avondhu.
Speaking to the press, An Taoiseach said that a new board at the state employment agency, FAS, would be put in place as soon as possible but did not call for the resignation of the current board.
“There is a major change to take place in FAS both in the composition and function of the board and a bill will be published over the coming weeks to do that. The transition to the new board will take place as a priority,” Brian Cowen said.
As for the creation of NAMA the Taoiseach rejected claims that the agency would be paying over inflated prices to the banks for the bad loans on their books.
“Once NAMA has been established the valuations will be taken then on all the loans. NAMA will ensure that we get credit back into the banking system, the important part here is that we can take the distressed assets off the loan books at the banks, have them dealt with by a government agency and enable liquidity and access to credit to be available once again,” the Taoiseach said.
Asked if he felt that the Lisbon Treaty referendum would become a No confidence vote in the performance of the Government Brian Cowen rejected claims that the other political parties were not doing enough to ensure a yes vote come October.
“All the parties are committed to an active campaign, I am very happy with the response we are getting in relation to this referendum. Everybody recognises that this is a hugely important decision for the country and that it is above and beyond national politics.
"Our economic future is best secured, especially in these difficult times by maintaining an active and positive approach to Europe and voting yes to the Lisbon Treaty will send that signal,” Brian Cowen said.
Friday 18th September 10:29am