Thursday 21 March 2019

BUDGET: Every Little Hurts -- Labour's words coming back to haunt us

LABOUR has now ticked five out of Fine Gael's six boxes with the final part to be signed off on next year.

Just over two years ago Eamon Gilmore flooded the national newspapers with Tesco-style ads warning us that 'Every Little Hurts'. They warned that a Fine Gael government would being pain on families, on motorists, on households and on drinkers. They were right.

At the time the Labour party took the unprecedented step of using an American-style attack on his main election rivals.

"Look what Fine Gael has in store for you," the advertisement read.

It warned of a €50 hike in car tax, €1 on a bottle of wine, €252 cut to child benefit, a 2pc jump in VAT and a further 3pc on DIRT.

Well after two coalition Budgets they were almost spot on: Motor tax was pushed up by between €10 and €126 yesterday; €1 was slapped on wine; child benefit for a family of two cut by €240; DIRT is now 33pc and VAT was raised to 23pc last year. And the final piece of the jigsaw will be put in place next year with water taxes.

The apparent defeat of Labour at the hands of Michael Noonan has created huge unease among backbenchers -- although they will stand firm for now. Exiting the chamber last night, one TD said: "People ask you how you feel about it. There's no real answer, it's like somebody asking you 'how does it feel' when your mother's just died."

Former minister Roisin Shortall has led the public charge about the measures in the budget. "Given the regressive and anti-family nature of this entire Budget, it's not surprising that you flunked this issue [pensions] as well," she said.

Labour Party Chairman Colm Keavney tweeted that a campaign to stop "problematic" parts of the Budget is under way. Labour rebels Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty have voiced serious concerns about the series of austerity measures.

"The day that the Labour Party cut €10 from child benefit, that's a day of shame, a day of infamy," said Deputy Broughan.

Deputy Nulty said: "Part of our tradition in the Labour movement is to dissent -- and now is the time to dissent, and speak out and stand up for working people."

Despite this, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton was claiming a small victory today as she managed to stop any direct cuts to universal social welfare payments like the jobseekers allowance.

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