The Greek debt crisis is very serious, not just for the Greek people but for the entire eurozone and European Union. People need to approach the crisis from very credible perspectives. In that context, I refer to remarks the Taoiseach made during the week on the situation, and in particular the manner in which he entered the fray, hectoring and lecturing and offering advice to the Greek Government, and in the process telling very big untruths. The Taoiseach said, "We did not increase income tax. We did not increase VAT. We did not increase PRSI". Most people found that statement and those remarks incredible. The economist, Seamus Coffey, summed it up succinctly when he said in speaking of the Taoiseach, "He is clearly wrong. Everything he said we did not do; we did do". In budget 2012 the standard rate of VAT was increased from 21% to 23%. That is a fact. The PRSI weekly allowance was abolished and the minimum PRSI contribution from the self-employed was significantly increased. Many additional charges and taxes, 45 in total, were introduced by the Government. I have a list of them with me. I do not know whether the Taoiseach was saying to Mr. Tsipras that if he pretends there are no tax increases, he will be fine and everything will be all right.
I say that knowing there are no easy solutions to a debt crisis. Hard decisions must be made. Very difficult decisions were made in this country, not least by a government of which I was a member. I equally accept that the Greek Government is behaving irresponsibly and playing Russian roulette with its own people. I do not approve of how the Greek Government is approaching the situation. Ultimately, the Syriza-Sinn Féin approach of saying to hell with everybody does not work. It creates a lot of stress, uncertainty and, ultimately, more misery for Greek citizens. However, the Taoiseach also loses all credibility when he does not tell the truth. His voice around the table loses credibility very quickly-----