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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Adams has again asked me for confirmation regarding issues in the budget that will be delivered tomorrow by the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. Let me confirm a number of matters for him. Interest rates have fallen from 14.4% to 4.3%. A total of 20,000 jobs have been created in the private sector whereas when we took office, 300,000 jobs had been lost in the private sector.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley What about the increases in unemployment? Businesses are closing.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath What about child benefit?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The ratings agency, Fitch, has improved the ratings status of the country.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen What about commercial rates?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Bank of Ireland raised €1 billion without a State guarantee.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley What of the increase in pension levies?

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Or the legislation on upward-only rent reviews?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would Deputies please desist? Thank you.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Moreover, Allied Irish Banks raised serious money without the State's guarantee. The ESB and Bord Gáis also did the same-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen They are for sale.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----in exercises that have been oversubscribed many times.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Their prices have risen as well. They are charging the consumer more.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The sale of the analogue spectrum-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen A special offer.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----brought in both a significant amount of money and confirmation of signals from three international communications companies of their interest in investing in Ireland.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald What has that to do with child benefit?

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Time magazine.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny These are facts I can confirm for the Deputy. As for the details of the budget, everyone will have all the details tomorrow. As I stated, these are challenging times but this budget will build on the platform already made and moving in the right direction of dealing with our public financial problems, of creating opportunities for jobs and employment and of continuing to make Ireland competitive and attractive for foreign direct investment by organisations such as Mylan, PayPal, Apple and all those which have invested and created, and continue to create, serious job numbers here. In addition, it will pertain to a real concern shared by everyone, that is, stimulating the indigenous economy, making it easier for young people to be employed and providing opportunities in small and medium-sized enterprises to have access to credit in order that the spend can move through the economy and people can plan their lives with a greater sense of security and strategy for the times ahead. This is what the budget will be about tomorrow.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Government has tried and has worked hard to make it as fair, equitable and affordable as is possible. These things are never easy. This is a major challenge for Ireland and the budget tomorrow will be a step further in this country's exiting of the programme we are in, in retrieving our economic sovereignty and restoring the opportunity to grow our economy and to create jobs, which is in everyone's interest. The people know this. Deputy Adams should believe it is not with any great sense of satisfaction that any Minister must deliver on or to deal with hard challenges. In that sense, the Minister for Finance will spell out all the details of the budget tomorrow while the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will outline the spending arrangements.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The whole country knows the Government is sharpening the knives to inflict even more suffering on struggling families, pensioners, students and those who depend on the health services. People also know from yesterday's events that Ireland's European Union partners are completely unimpressed with the Government's slavish obedience and willingness to impose such suffering on its own citizens. They intend to give us no debt relief whatsoever. The people of this country are looking into a dark and endless night of austerity and suffering if the Taoiseach continues down this failed path. When workers, unemployed people, pensioners and community groups assemble to protest outside the Dáil tomorrow afternoon against what the Government plans to do to them-----

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Deputy already has it arranged.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett -----will the Taoiseach go out and tell them how they are supposed to pay their bills? Will he tell them which meals they should skip or that their children should skip to pay the Government's home taxes, its car tax increases, its new taxes on pensions, its cuts in child benefit and its increased registration fees? The Taoiseach has proven to be highly adept at using other people's money to pay off the loan sharks of the international financial markets. Will he go out tomorrow and tell these citizens how they can use his skills to pay off the street loan sharks from whom they are obliged to borrow money to pay for groceries and bills? Perhaps the Taoiseach might offer to swap places with one of those families who are dependent on family income supplement or social welfare----

Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor: Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Would the Deputy?

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Would the Deputy do that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett -----and live on what they live on for a week. If the Taoiseach is not willing to do this, will he stop and tell the troika that we cannot take any more?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Will he tell it that the poor, the pensioners, the unemployed and the working poor of this country cannot take any more? Will Taoiseach finally stand up for the citizens of this country instead of protecting the interests of bondholders and financiers?

Deputy Noel Harrington: Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington What is the Deputy on about on the Dublin riviera?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Unlike the Deputy, I did not have the benefit of a private school education but if one studies what is happening, this country is in a very different position and on a different path than are the citizens of Greece. As for the decision of the Minister for Finance in respect of the arrangements made for Greece, they are very different than the position in which this country finds itself. Deputy Boyd Barrett will appreciate the Greek Government now has a target of reaching a debt-to-GDP ratio of 124% by 2024, whereas the Irish Government expects to exit its programme in 2013, to retrieve its economic independence and to be able to grow the economy. In that sense, the Government is already working with the troika on the arrangements that will be most appropriate for Ireland in exiting its programme.

The Deputy speaks of all the different sectors and mentions the unemployed, workers and those who are in receipt of social protection. Does he not think the Government appreciates the challenges these people face? Does he not understand such individuals approach all public representatives with their genuine concerns and anxieties? This is the reason the Government, in the circumstances it faces, will do its best to ensure that the budget is as fair and as equitable as possible. Not everything can be done tomorrow and it is a case of putting this budget clearly on a platform of progress for the entire country and the economy in order that investment and jobs can be created. It is never going to fix itself and with his private school education, Deputy Boyd Barrett is aware of this. While the Deputy might be highly gratified to have another protest outside the gates, I assure the Deputy that where I come from, we know all about that.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government pays all the private schools to the tune of €100 million.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We know all about challenge and adversity and all about the difficulties the people have faced for many years. Deputy Boyd Barrett should not come into this Chamber and lecture us about all of that.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins It is reality, not a lecture.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am sure he will be present for the budget tomorrow when the details will be spelled out by the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach is in very bad form.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is bailing out the private schools.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Deputy McGrath should take it easy.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Deputy Durkan should remember the €100 million.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It does not matter what school one attended because any schoolchild could work out that if one has nothing, one cannot pay any more and 1.3 million people have €50 or less at the end of the month after paying for essentials. How will they pay €300 or €400 in home tax? How can they pay hundreds of euro extra in car tax? How will they deal with cuts in child benefit or other cuts and austerity taxes the Government plans to impose on them? Simple mathematics makes it clear this cannot be done. This is a recipe for driving hundreds of thousands of families into poverty.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you. A question please.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Taoiseach states he has no choice but there is a choice. The Government should impose the taxes on those who can afford them and tell the bondholders and financiers that the ordinary citizens of this country cannot take it any more. If he intends to persist with this madness, I again ask the Taoiseach whether he at least will go out tomorrow to explain to those pensioners, workers and ordinary struggling families how they are supposed to pay their bills or live as they must for a week or two to see how he manages.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Does the Deputy think I live in some kind of ivory tower?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett This House is the ivory tower. Will the Taoiseach go out tomorrow?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry, would you allow the reply please?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Government has a particular ask in respect of our colleagues both in Europe and with the ECB and that is to restructure and re-engineer the level of the bank debt the country has faced. Patience is an important element of what we must do here. I agree that I would love to be able to come into the Chamber tomorrow and tell Members this has all been sorted out. However, the Deputy should believe me when I tell him it is neither as easy nor as facile as he attempts to put forward.


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