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Leaders' Questions

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

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Leaders' Questions

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary We all knew before 2.30 p.m. yesterday that this budget was not going to be easy. We knew the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and his colleagues in the Government were at pains to condition people about tough but fair choices. Congratulations. The Government achieved the tough part. Unfortunately, it completely failed on the fair part. The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade said he knows the budget is tough but the problem is he does not seem to understand or be able to do anything about it.

Many of those who voted for Labour in 2011 are ruing their decision today. They voted on the basis of a series of promises. Clearly, the Minister and his colleagues in government have forgotten about those promises. So, permit me to remind the Members opposite with these election pamphlets. "Families Need Labour in Government", "Protect Child Benefit – Vote Labour", "A Cut Too Far – Fine Gael – Every Little Hurts".

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We cannot display election pamphlets in the Chamber.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary There is no need to display Labour's shame.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Did the Deputy come up with this himself?

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary The Government has introduced the second regressive budget in a row. It has targeted children for major cuts in a range of areas.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government took €10 off the kiddies.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary It has cut child benefit, taxed maternity benefit and cut the clothing and footwear allowances. What did it give in return? It gave just a few child care places.

One of the most unfair cuts which will impact on 70,000 families is the cut in the respite care grant which provides significant service to families in difficult situations. These families have been singled out in particular. Every one of the welfare cuts imposed in this budget could have been avoided if the Minister had proceeded with what his Labour backbenchers wanted him to do which was to put a tax on those who can pay and those earning over €100,000.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Is that Fianna Fáil's policy?

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary It seems this budget was framed in advance with Fine Gael going to war with Labour in order that Fine Gael could protect the elites of society in its ambition to be the Tea Party.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan That is laughable when one thinks Fianna Fáil destroyed Irish society.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary Will the Minister confirm that all the provisions announced in yesterday's budget will be contained in the social welfare Bill when it is published next week? Or will there be changes to some of these provisions?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg Fianna Fáil will be joining the United Left Alliance next.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Welcome aboard.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Deputy Stagg should better start looking around him. He might be heading off into the sunset.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Perhaps we could have the Minister's reply without interruptions.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle. Yes, indeed, this is a difficult budget. I do not recall anyone on the Government benches at any stage saying other than it would be a difficult budget. The challenge confronting the Government was taking €3.5 billion out of the economy, an action with which Fianna Fáil agrees. It ought to agree with it because it negotiated it when it handed over control and direction of economic affairs outside of the country. The Government was confronted with doing this in a balanced way which protects the most vulnerable while stimulating greater employment growth in the economy. Achievements have been made in protecting core social welfare rates, protecting the pupil-teacher ratio to ensure there will be more teachers in the classroom because of demographics-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Yet the Government now pays the teachers half the salary.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte -----protecting the tax rates for those going to work, creating 10,000 jobs in successful schemes such as Tús and JobBridge, restoring home help, defending people with disabilities, and contrary to what Deputy Calleary has said, raising more than €500 million from those who are better off. Deputy Calleary seems to want to ignore the fact that this is the first budget which has addressed issues that have been staring us in the face for so long.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Fergus Finlay would not agree with the Minister.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte We addressed capping relief on pensions at €60,000 per annum and top-slicing enormous severance packages. The measures that have levied more than €500 million from the better-off in our society are the main contributors to these overall savings.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien That is not true.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher This was a budget for the rich.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We do not want any comments on what the Minister is saying. Will Deputies please let him finish?

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Emigration is going up too.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher The Government is like the Tea Party.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would you stay quiet, Deputy?

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The difficulty is that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin broke with tradition this time and did not submit their pre-budget submissions for evaluation.


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