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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 2

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Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Even on the cusp of taking a further €3.5 billion out of the economy, would the Taoiseach not concede that austerity is not working?

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

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Second, will the Taoiseach not state straight out the Government did not equality-proof this budget? The Taoiseach is in a position to state that in so far as it could, the Government either equality proofed it or did not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Adams comes in here every day and makes the same argument.

Deputy Robert Dowds: Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds Actually, he misses a lot of debates.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There has been a long tradition here in the country that in the run-in to budgets, all parties are entitled to submit their claims for alternative budgets to the Department of Finance to be assessed and valued independently. Deputy Adams's party did not bother to do that.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Yes, we did.

Deputies: No, they did not.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn I cannot believe the Taoiseach pulled that one.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Consequently, it ill behoves Deputy Adams-----

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn We sought views from all the Departments.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín It is a facts-free Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Settle down please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It ill behoves Deputy Adams to come to this Chamber and castigate the Labour Party or anyone else.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn What about the Taoiseach's backbenchers? There are a few right-wingers there.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny While Sinn Féin can have its rows with Fianna Fáil if it wishes, the test for Deputy Adams and his party was why they did not submit their alternative budgetary propositions to the Department to have them costed independently.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn We did.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg Amateurs.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No one can hear anything. I ask Deputies to stop shouting.

A Deputy: Lads, this is senior hurling.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Did the Department get the Technical Group submission?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Adams should be clear about the following point. Members should see all those young people in the Visitors Gallery. When those young people grow up and become adults in this country, the Government seeks to have achieved a situation in which Ireland's economic good health has been restored, where there is an engine to drive the economy efficiently and competently-----

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Earth to Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny ----- and that we never again will have a situation in which the Government runs riot with the people's money. The Government seeks to have restored that good health to the economy in order that investment can be attracted and jobs can result. This is what is important in this regard.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Reality is important.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Government seeks to protect those front-line services and those who are vulnerable in as fair a way as it can.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Government is not doing that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny This is the reason that if, for example, Deputy Adams has decided there is an alternative to a property tax, it means one loads on income taxes, as well as taxes on work, and that will not help in a scenario in which one must develop one's economy. In the vast majority of cases, the moneys that will come in from that tax will be retained by local authorities for services for local people.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín The Government reduced the local government grant.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Local people wish to see good competent government delivering in their interests.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The next time, Sinn Féin should send its proposals over to the Department of Finance-----

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams We always do.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny ----- to have them costed and then Deputy Adams will see how daft they are.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley The Taoiseach should not worry. They have had their figures checked by the quartermaster. They even had them checked in sterling.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Ceann Comhairle should throw out the Minister of State, Deputy McGinley.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn I see Deputy McGinley is getting uptight.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I call Deputy Ross. Could we all settle down for a while and give Deputy Ross a chance?

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

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Are Members being charged for this?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank the Ceann Comhairle. I think Deputy Adams would be best served in sending his budget submission to Brussels or Berlin instead of sending it to Merrion Street.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley It is Labour's way.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Today, middle Ireland is waking up with a feeling of foreboding. It is well aware that a draconian budget has been written elsewhere. Property owners, pensioners and people with mortgages they cannot pay are converting their anger into fear. This fear is not simply of what the Government is doing to them but of what is happening in Brussels and Berlin. They fear the property tax and they fear child benefit being cut.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They fear big Phil.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Moreover, they fear that those who have been victims of the banks will now become victims of the Governments whose banks have imposed this austerity upon them. Members can discuss the property tax, because it has been announced by the Government many times. The blow of that tax is not softened by the leaks coming from the Government benches. In particular, I refer to the kind of obfuscation when Members are presented with the fact that there will be a mansion tax. That does not soften the blow-----

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg I did not think Deputy Ross would like that.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ----- for those people who will be obliged to pay large sums on small properties as a result of property tax. What the Government has succeeded in doing is highly dangerous. By allowing European and foreign forces to write this budget, it is creating an unlikely coalition of the unwilling and those who are unable to pay in Ireland today.

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

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Moreover, the blow is not softened by the fact-----

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring This is a speech. Where is the question?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross It is not softened by the fact that in view of the fact-----

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg Can the Deputy think of a question?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett If Deputies do not mind, I will look after the chairing of the session. When Deputy Ross is ready, he should put the question please.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan He is an angry man.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In view of the fact that last Monday, the Government and the French and German Finance Ministers closed the door-----

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

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ----- to any Greek deal for Ireland, would the Taoiseach consider taking the fight about this budget to Brussels, to Berlin and to Paris? Would he consider getting a bank deal first and producing a budget second?

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The answer to that question is "No". I thought Deputy Ross was one of the four angry men going around the country.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan That is how he lost his voice.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am not sure how well the show was going-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath They got a full house and were sold out wherever they went.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry, Deputies.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I wish him the best of luck with it. The Deputy is well aware that the position of Greece is very different to that of this country. We have a particular request, which is what I referred to when replying to Deputy Adams.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Taoiseach should demand, not ask.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Government is in discussion and negotiations with the European Central Back about the question of the promissory notes. As has been outlined by the Minister for Finance, the next payment is due in March 2013 and the Government does not wish to be obliged to pay that. At the other end of this issue, I note the European finance Ministers yesterday did not reach agreement on putting in place the legal framework for the banking union and its supervisory capacity and that a further meeting has been scheduled for next week. Deputy Ross is well aware that one cannot have these discussions unless one has a legal framework in which they take place. I hope this can be achieved before the end of the year at the meeting to be held next week. As I outlined yesterday, the Greek situation is different than that of Ireland. We will exit our programme in 2013 and the Government is in discussions with the troika about what might be appropriate in respect of the nature of that exit. Greece will still be attempting to get its debt-to-GDP ratio down to 124% by 2024, whereas Ireland will exit its programme next year. In itself, this will add an attractiveness to this country as a location for continued investment and job creation. However, what the Government would regard as being fundamentally helpful to Ireland, and what it is in discussions on and pursuing with the European Central Bank, as well as at European Council level, is the question of sustainability arising from the bank debts that were put on the backs of the taxpayers. The Government continues to deal with that in a serious manner.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The point I was trying to make is that middle Ireland now sees that on one side are the Government, the Department of Finance and others in positions of great power here, allied with Mrs. Merkel and other powerful European nations and European banks, while on the other side are the people of Ireland, who will be obliged to suffer this austerity budget today. I acknowledge the sums will add up at the end of the day but people are not going to be able to pay some of the taxes the Government intends to impose. A new situation is being entered into, in that the property tax will not be paid by some people because they will not be able to pay it. There are people with mortgages who cannot pay their mortgages and they will not be able to pay an additional tax on the debts they already owe.

Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor: Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor What is the Deputy's suggestion?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross What will the Taoiseach do? There has already been a strike in respect of the household charge. What will the Government do if the people decide this is a bridge too far-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Bring in the sheriff.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ----- and that they will resist the taxes - through poverty and not through unwillingness - as a result of what the Government has done and what it intends to do today?


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