Friday 19 January 2018

Opposition hit out at 'missed opportunity' for real change

Paschal Donohoe Picture: Collins
Paschal Donohoe Picture: Collins

Fianna Fail attempted to distance itself from several key elements of Budget 2017 - while still insisting that the party played a major part in improving the lives of families.

Michael McGrath, the party's finance spokesman, said Fianna Fail ensured there were positive measures in areas such as health, education and social protection.

"We didn't get everything we wanted in this Budget, but we have secured some vital progress on a number of priorities set out in that agreement - including in health, social protection, education, housing and fair reductions in the Universal Social Charge."

However, Mr McGrath described the Government's plans to meet the challenge of Brexit as "absolutely pathetic".


"You have provided €3m extra on the Jobs and Enterprise department ... it's pathetic, absolutely pathetic," he said.

Fianna Fail's public expenditure spokesman, Dara ­Calleary, insisted his party "did not write the Budget", but, he said, acted on a "clear message" from the electorate that public services must be prioritised over tax cuts.

Sinn Fein attacked the Budget by describing the Government's failure to invest more in services as a "missed opportunity". The party's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the Fine Gael-led Partnership Government's "backroom budget" lacked vision and did not take lessons from the past.

During his Dail speech, Mr Doherty said the "real test" of the Budget would be how it affects homeless children living in hotels and old people stuck for hours on trollies in hospitals.

"When the results of that test are looked at, what will the result be? Complete failure," he said.

Mr Doherty said the cuts to the Universal Social Charge (USC) meant that a worker earning €35,000 would receive a "paltry €3.30 a week [extra]".

"It won't go far when the bank is ripping you off on your mortgage, and sending the kids to college costs the same as another mortgage," he said.

The Labour Party claimed that older people got less in the Budget than they did last year, despite the €5 increase in the old age pension.

The party's social protection spokesman, Willie Penrose, said pensioners were "sold a pup".

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said the Government's "right-wing Budget" reinforced the injustices in society.


The Social Democrats said Budget measures on housing were "retrograde" and risked causing another property ­bubble. The party's co-­leader Roisin Shortall said: "There was an opportunity here for the Government to display leadership and vision but instead they tried to provide a crumb to as many sections as possible to the long-term detriment of all."

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