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Friday, April 30, 2010


Fine Gael’s Dr. Liam Twomey called on the Taoiseach and his government to be more honest with the people about the economy and the banks.

In the Seanad this week, Dr. Twomey urged the government to respond to the concerns that the international money markets still have about our economy.
“By bailing out the banks, we are compromising the ability of the people to get out of the financial doldrums in which they find themselves. Interest rates on mortgages are increasing, but rates on deposit accounts are dropping. Every 0.25% rates rise adds a significant burden to the mortgage repayments of hard-pressed taxpayers, the same people who have seen income and pension levies and increased taxes because of the mistakes made by the current Governments.

“People have noticed that the banks have now gone back to business as usual, putting up interest rates, cutting deposit rates and going back to a business as usual attitude. However, they are still not providing credit to small businesses. This is no more evident than in Wexford town itself, with the Chamber of Commerce recent survey revealing 27 empty retail units along the Main Street and its side streets. The response by the Taoiseach to this attitude by the banks, having bailed them out to the tune of €54 billion, is pathetic and is a sad reflection on the Government that it allowed this to happen so easily.”

Dr. Twomey also pointed out that the future of the economy is still not secure and deflation is still happening. “We must be much more honest with the public. Deflation is a problem over the medium to long term because we are in the eurozone. In this regard, we must look at the future of the euro currency and the impact it will have on the economy, events outside our control and our ability to recover. We need jobs and growth and possibly even inflation in order to come out of the financial doldrums. Although the euro has saved us to some extent, in other ways it is holding us back. I want a debate with the Minister of Finance about our role within the euro system and where we fit within it.”


Fine Gael’s Dr. Liam Twomey wants politicians to be proactive about ensuring that more women become involved in politics.

Currently in the Dail, women make up 14% of the TDs. In the mid-1990s, the average participation rate for women elected to the Lower House in the EU was 16% but has now increased to 24%. Therefore, Ireland is ten percentage points behind the EU average. However Dr. Twomey believes that these figures can improve just like improvements were made in participation of women in his profession of medicine. “This happened, not because anybody wanted to change the system but because 75% of medical students were women. Therefore, the majority of doctors graduating were women and the system had to change to fit in with the lives of female doctors.”

Dr. Twomey pointed out that politics is a macho profession and it is all about long nights, staying out at night at meetings and is essentially anti- family. “What happens when more women are involved in politics is that there is more discussion on social issues rather than on purely economic issues and the way politics is delivered changes as well. However, the only way we will effect change is by actively placing women in roles of responsibility, both elected and non-elected, in the political system. If this is done, the ethos in politics will change significantly. Failing this, however, there will not be any change. That is why in large constituencies like county Wexford, I would like to see Fine Gael endeavour to give the opportunity to voters to vote for a woman candidate. ”

Dr. Twomey believes that the use of quotas and list systems can lead to this change. “The political structure is not family friendly for fathers or mothers. During my time as a Member of the other House I found politics an incredible burden. I had three very young children at the time and found that considerable effort was required to try to balance being a politician and a father. As politicians, we must try to actively encourage change. It is time to reactivate positive action to change the public’s mindset and ensure that women will want to become involved in politics.”

Friday, April 23, 2010


While Fine Gael’s Dr. Liam Twomey welcomed the fact that AIB’s Mr. Boucher had decided not to exercise the option of retiring at the age of 55, effectively giving up his controversial €1.5m pension fund top-up, Dr. Twomey pointed out that it shows how incredibly weak the Taoiseach and the government are in taking the banks on.

“It was the public’s anger that forced Mr. Boucher to give up his pension top-up. All the Taoiseach did was to make it clear that he could do nothing about the matter legally. At the moment, we see that the banks are running riot. They, rather than the Government, are in control of the restructuring of the banking system. I am calling on the Taoiseach or at least the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan to show moral backbone in the taking on of senior officials in the banking sector.”

Dr. Twomey added, “In the next budget, the Government had already planned to cut expenditure by €1 billion. But now that Eurostat has released figures stating that Ireland had the biggest government deficit in the EU last year, at 14.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), further cuts will need to be made. The 4 billion euro given to Anglo Irish Bank is no longer regarded as a financial investment by the EU and must be recorded as capital spending. This means that more money has to come out of the tax payer’s pocket again. As the government consistently goes for the easy option, it will no doubt want to cut the pay of public sector workers or cut payments to social welfare recipients. If we allow this carry-on by a weak government and by the banks to continue in the meantime, and if the people believe the banks are getting away with murder, there will be no public appetite for further cuts in Government spending. In fact, public confidence in the economy and people’s security are hit even more, when the government consistently shows that its figures are wrong and another ‘adjustment’ has to be made.”


Dr. Liam Twomey of Fine Gael calls on all stakeholders to get involved in the future role that co-ops will play in Irish society. He specifically calls for a debate in Seanad Eireann for the Government to give their views on their policy for co-ops in the 21st Century.
“At present, agribusiness PLCs are decoupling from their co-ops to position themselves as businesses that only respond to shareholders needs which means they only need to focus on profit.”
“The co-op ethos on the other hand is about the needs of its members and the wider community it serves. It is about developing a market for the co-op members and its priority is not solely profit motivated.”
Dr. Twomey explained, “In the last few years when prices for agricultural produce were low, many PLCs supported the milk prices paid to farmers with the profits from other high end products in the PLC. This support mechanism will go when the PLC is decoupled.”
“Co-ops developed out of necessity when farmers were unable to sell their produce at a fair price over a century ago. The amalgamation of small co-ops in the sixties lead to bigger co-ops that were able to establish PLCs to bring in outside investors that lead to the success of agribusiness PLCs as we know them today.”
Dr. Twomey says that co-ops are still very important from a socioeconomic viewpoint to rural society, in county Wexford and elsewhere, as well as from a food security standpoint and they are crucial as economic entities. “What is happening in agribusiness at present is much bigger than anything we have talked about concerning rural communities over recent months.”
“The government must be proactive and look for future problems. If anything were to go wrong in the future with co-ops because they were undercapitalised, had taken on too much debt or did not have proper business plans, the taxpayer could end up having to bail them out or else they would fail, which would be to the detriment of rural communities in county Wexford and indeed throughout the country.”
“Growing up on the family farm in the seventies and having family connections with co-ops and PLCs, I have seen and admired the revolutionary changes that occurred in the agricultural sector over the last four decades. However we are now at a new era in agribusiness and we must all go forward with our eyes open to the potential problems that could mar future successes.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010


On Thursday April 22nd at 8pm in the Talbot, Dr. Liam Twomey is holding a meeting where he and Dr. James Reilly will discuss Fine Gael’s health policy, FairCare.

Dr. Twomey explained that FairCare proposes real reform of our health system. "FairCare can deliver an improved health system for all without additional costs to the tax payers. There are a number of problems with the health system at the moment. This results in patients suffering due to long waiting lists, and trolleys in A & E departments. "

“Under Fianna Fail’s current system of fixed budgets with no incentives, every hospital gets an annual budget based on the previous year’s budget. Therefore each patient is effectively a “cost” to the hospital, and reduces the overall pot of money available for other patients and services. Hospitals are basically penalised for treating more patients. Fine Gael’s health policy proposes that Ireland should move over time, to an alternative tariff-based scheme where the health service providers are paid based on the number of patients they treat; a system where “money follows the patient.” The key advantage of such an approach is that patients become a source of “income” rather than a “cost”. The more patients that are treated, the more money a hospital receives.”

Dr. Twomey pointed out that this system has worked in other countries such as Sweden and Australia and has resulted in both a reduction in waiting times and lengths of stay in hospital. “This policy of “money follows the patient” makes the patient the centre of the health system. Under Fianna Fail and their health policies, saving money without regard to the impact on the patient seems to be their main strategy. We have seen this first hand in Wexford: whereas it’s right to move orthopaedics, breast surgery and lower colon surgery to Waterford, the current threat on our 24 hour A & E services is simply a cost cutting mechanism.”

“Radical reform of our health system is the only way we can solve the problems that successive Fianna Fail governments that have neglected our Health Service have caused. I invite everyone to come along to hear about FairCare and to give us their opinions on our proposals,” said Dr. Twomey.