‘It’s easy to identify problems’ – Waterford Mayor hits out at Sinn Féin councillors over budget stance
Waterford Mayor John Pratt has criticised local Sinn Féin councillors for refusing to support the council’s budget for 2020 and for failing to come up with alternative proposals.
The Labour general election candidate spoke out after the budget was finally passed in the early hours of this morning after more than nine hours of tense deliberations at City Hall.
However, five Sinn Féin councillors refused to support the deal, effectively its ending the so-called “Progressive Alliance” with Labour, Green party and Independent councillors.
In the end, the governing pact had to rely on the belated support of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors who, after a number of amendments were agreed, backed the budget to prevent the local authority from going into administration.
Sinn Féin said they refused to support the budget for 2020, saying it is “unsustainable”. They blamed the Government for failing to stump up another €1.2 million to plug a hole in the council’s finances caused by the recent reevaluation of Irish Water assets.
However, Mayor Pratt criticised his former pact partners for their hardline stance, and questioned why the people of Waterford should vote Sinn Féin when “they cannot even deliver on promises”.
Mayor Pratt said: “It is easy to identify problems, coming up with solutions is the hard part, which is what we have done. Sinn Féin have called the budget that was passed yesterday an ‘austerity budget’ even though there are no cuts to housing, roads and other services despite what they might claim to the contrary. They are fixated on pointing out that the council is facing a cut of over €15 million over the next five years.
“There will be a general election next year but they have not once said that if they get into government they will ensure that this cut will be reversed, which begs the question why should people in Waterford vote Sinn Féin nationally next year when they cannot even deliver on promises they make locally.”
Despite the difficulties in reaching agreement, Mayor Pratt said: “We got a balanced budget passed. We prevented the abolition of the council and its replacement with a government Commissioner. We preserved local democracy and respected voters who exercised their right to elect local councillors willing to represent them for a full five year term through thick and thin.”
Mayor Pratt told WaterfordNow.ie this evening he was “exhausted” after the late-night budget, drama, but said he was confident the best deal possible has been reached for the people of Waterford city and county under the circumstances.
PHOTO: Cllr John Pratt, Facebook