herald

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Yes, some Budget cuts were awful -- Lucinda

LUCINDA Creighton has admitted elements of Budget 2013 were unfair and has described some of the social welfare cuts as "awful".

The European Affairs Minister said she hopes the measures "will never be repeated".

In an interview with the Herald, Ms Creighton rejected claims that the Government is "disconnected" from struggling families.

But she admitted the savage welfare cuts that have affected the likes of carers are "awful".

"I don't think it can be fair, to take, you know, revenue measures and spending cut measures of ¤3.5bn, it's never going to be entirely fair.

"We are in coalition with a partner that has a different type of mandate to ours.

"That's the process of coalition, it's negotiation, it's compromise. I think what we have achieved is as good a deal as is possible for the country in a coalition of the sort that we have."

She added: "That's not to say that I like the measures, I don't. They're awful and very difficult. But we have no choice, we have to sort out the public finances.

"That means we've had to do this, we've had to do this Budget which is one of the most difficult we've had to experience in the history of this Government and I hope in the history of the State."







Anxiety

Politics aside, Ms Creighton faced her own personal woes in 2012 when she was sued for defamation by Cork developer Michael O'Flynn in the wake of comments she made during a speech at the MacGill Summer School in July 2010.

The case attracted major media attention, with the pair eventually settling out of court.

The Dublin South East TD admitted that being brought to the High Court by the developer was one of the "lowest points" of the year.

"The High Court case was a very difficult period. It caused a lot of stress and anxiety for everybody involved and I'm just glad that we can move on from it," she said.

However, Ms Creighton is believed to have greatly impressed the Taoiseach with her performance in the Fiscal Treaty referendum.

Speculation is rife that Enda Kenny is planning a reshuffle for the autumn -- with Government figures tipping the European Affairs Minister to join the senior ranks.

"If one were to come up on the Cabinet table, you'd be mad to turn it down. But I don't think it's on the cards -- the Government at the moment is very cohesive working towards the presidency."

She says that hosting the prestigious presidency could greatly boost our bid to secure a better deal on our banking debt -- with the March 31 deadline for the promissory note looming.

"Obviously on the one hand the presidency has to be objective, you can't be seen to just ride into town and only look out for yourself, because the other 26 will say 'hang on a second, what about us', so you have to be seen to look out for everybody's interests.







Abortion

"But on the other hand, the more credit we get, the more people see that Ireland is doing well that we're doing a good job, the more goodwill there will be towards us and the more interest there will be in helping and working with Ireland."

However 2013 is also set to be dominated by the debate on abortion. Ms Creighton told this newspaper that she would be willing to quit as minister if the planned legislation "goes too far". She insisted: "I've made it very clear that I would not support any regime that would introduce liberalised abortion or abortion on demand, that's just not an option for me.

"We also feel very strongly in Fine Gael, and I think this distinguishes us from other parties, in the constitutional right of the life of the unborn child and that is something that is a constitutional protection, it's not something that is made up by Fine Gael."

Although emphasising that she is by "no means" a devout Catholic, Ms Creighton says that she is "spiritual" and relies on "my values".

noconnor@herald.ie

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