Sinn Féin TDs have described the Taoiseach’s comments that there would be fewer jobs if the party was to lead government as “another veiled attack” and “without credibility”.
Micheál Martin also questioned the republican party’s “left-wing populism” agenda, which he said would “cripple the enterprise base”.
Asked what it would mean if Sinn Féin were in power, Mr Martin said: “Well, I think it would mean less jobs, fundamentally.
“And I think the SME (small and medium enterprise) sector would be under enormous pressure.” Speaking to The Echo, Cork North Central TD Thomas Gould said the Taoiseach’s comments had “no substance”.
“He doesn’t back them up with any detail and to me it just looks like another veiled attack.
“They’re looking at the opinion polls now. They’re worried and they’re just throwing the kitchen sink at us and this is another way now by trying to scaremonger people about jobs.
We believe the opposite. We believe the policies of a Sinn Féin-led Government would actually encourage job growth and would help to stimulate the economy.
“We know the small and medium enterprises have to be supported. Some of the stuff we propose is to put a month’s rent back into renters' pockets by giving people a tax break, that's money that we know they would spend directly into the economy.
“The Taoiseach is talking about businesses and look at the condition that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have allowed places like North Main Street and other places in the city fall into. What we would do is implement the derelict sites levy and the vacant site levy that they brought in but never levied.
“There are over 12 million outstanding and what we would do is actually increase them from 7% to 15% and what that would be is a levy on landowners who are hoarding property trying to maximise the profits they can make.
“So either turn them into businesses or homes or else local authorities would compulsorily purchase them. Cork City Council is collecting some of them but only a pittance.
“This would bring in levies that could be spent on regenerating areas like North Main Street, Shandon Street, or Blackpool, getting more businesses up and running, bringing in schemes to incentify new businesses into these areas and at the same time ending the amount of dereliction in the city.
So our implementation of these levies and the enforcement of them would help to create revenue and that revenue could be spent locally to regenerate those areas to support businesses and create more jobs.
TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that Sinn Féin’s enterprise policies “are very strong” and “credible”.
“I think that if you actually talk to the organisations involved in business here in Cork and across the State I think there would be recognition, yes, of course, we don’t agree on everything, but there is a recognition that we understand the needs of businesses and that we’re responsive to it and I think we’ve been quite vocal in demanding supports for businesses in the context of Covid,” he said.
He said that the Taoiseach’s comments “are without credibility”.
“He’s trying to shape a narrative at the start of the year but I don’t believe it needs to be taken too seriously,” he said.