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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The budget presented by the Minister for Finance is not about the Fine Gael Party or the Labour Party; rather, it is about Ireland and its people.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins It is about protecting the rich.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It was the Taoiseach who leaked it. He told the journalist.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is about the Government having the conviction and the courage to clean up the inordinate mess left behind by the most incompetent, out of touch, arrogant Government of the past 50 years.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Surpassed only by the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We will do this, taking into account the circumstances in which so many find themselves. People all over the country say to me that they know difficult decisions must be made in the interests of all the people.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Sarah Palin would not be a patch on the Government. Fine Gael is the Tea Party.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I would love to be able to say to the Deputy that instead of cuts in this area, the reverse will happen, but that is not the case. The budget is about freeing the economy and opportunities for the many hard-pressed middle income families who will never get out of this rut unless the Government makes hard decisions in the interests of all the people and the country.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Never, not with the way the Taoiseach answers questions.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins Blame the Labour Party when it is on the backs of carers. Is that it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It ill behoves the Deputy to attack the Labour Party, in particular, as if the budget belongs to it.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The budget is about the people and the country. We will stand over it and attempt to implement these decisions with care, compassion and consideration and in the best way possible.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The Government drove a stake into the heart of the Labour Party.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We have protected the majority of allowances paid under the social protection code. I have given details of the increased figure of €20 million and indicated where it will be spent next year.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We had the most regressive budget last year and again this year.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Things are bad now.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams It is more in sadness than in anger that I must say the Taoiseach just does not get it. The budget is all about the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party. It tells us everything we need to know about the two parties. There is huge anger among the people about the cuts and the new taxes the Government has introduced to target citizens who are unable to pay. It is not that they will not pay, they cannot pay. I was at a public meeting last night in Dundalk when I saw raw emotion and despair. I heard a mother say women had a sense of failure in having to admit they could not feed their children. That is what she said. People are deeply incensed by the cuts to child benefit and the back to school allowance, by the taxing of maternity benefit, the increase in PRSI, increased prescription charges and the tax on the family home. However, what has really incensed them, although they are not affected, are the cuts to the respite care grant, through which the Government is picking the pockets of 77,000 citizens. The respite care grant is hugely important to the families involved. Leaving aside the ethics, cutting the grant is bad economics. If the State had to pay for the care the families concerned provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it would not be able to bear the cost. If the Taoiseach does not get this - sitting in a row of millionaires - it is because he is taking home €200,000 a year. Therefore, he does not understand what it is like to have to get kids back to school.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe We do not have a house in the North and the South.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please allow the Deputy to continue.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Those listening to the Taoiseach will not be encouraged that he has a sense of their plight. Ministers take home over €3,000 a week. The Government has broken the cap for special advisers and refuses to consider alternatives. If I was to bring in the woman who spoke last night and she was to plead with the Taoiseach to reverse this cut, would he do it? On her behalf, I ask him to reverse it. There are alternative ways of raising the money. Will the Taoiseach consider reversing this dreadful cut which will affect people who just cannot afford to take it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I was in Phibsboro last Saturday with Deputy Paschal Donohoe when I met some of Deputy Gerry Adams's supporters on the street who were handing out leaflets attacking the Labour Party, but these supporters were not able to answer any question about any of the issues mentioned on the leaflets regarding the fantasy economics in which Sinn Féin was engaged. The Deputy has made a disgraceful comment about Ministers. I assure him that none of them was funded by the assets of Northern Bank.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn Here we go again.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Gerry Adams knows very little about taxation matters if he makes a comment like the one he has just made. However, I will not go back over history to hear the Deputy expound on many elements of the truth. It ill behoves him to talk about the raw emotion of women, in particular, having regard to some of the incidents that occurred in his lifetime and with which he was associated, which resulted not in just raw emotion but which had tragic consequences. I will not take that from the Deputy and it is beneath him to carry on like that.

  Carer's allowance in Northern Ireland is £58.45. Having made the decision on the bigger issue to sort out the public finances and put the economy in shape for the future and having made decisions on child benefit and the respite care grant, the carer's allowance, the carer's package, the homecare package and the half-rate carer's allowance all remain untouched. The respite care grant stands at a figure of €1,375, although for many, this is not enough and never will be. I have given the Deputy the numbers for those in receipt of the allowance. As he is aware, payment of the allowance is unconditional because of our appreciation for what carers actually do. This is reflected in the carers' strategy which was published by the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, earlier this year and accepted by all and which we would like to see implemented.

  As the truth goes, although this might be scarce in the Deputy's repertoire, financial circumstances do not permit us to pay all we would like to in these difficult days. It is not a case of elements of the budget being reversed on a whim. This has been a very difficult budget to put together and we recognise it is trying for many, but we must get the country out of its difficulties. As I said to Deputy Micheál Martin, over €500 million extra will come from those who can best afford to pay.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I never thought the Taoiseach would make me laugh on this day, but his stupid remark about the Northern Bank in response to a serious question made me laugh. Second, he referred to events in my life and women. That is below him and diminishes the office he holds. Sinn Féin Members and I are here with a mandate. We have been mandated to raise the issues we are raising. The Taoiseach was never given a mandate to do what he is doing. He was not sent here to cut the allowances of carers. He was not sent here to cut child benefit or maternity benefit. He asked for and was given a mandate to do the exact opposite. He can be tough with the people concerned and say the things he does across the floor, but he kowtows to his masters in Europe. He kowtowed to the big bankers and the golden circles who got us into this difficulty. He should cut out the waffle and the rubbish and answer the question. He should show some compassion. He says the budget is difficult for him, but, with respect, it is not the least bit difficult for him. This is the easy choice to make, to tackle those who are not organised and who are vulnerable and on the margins.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter If the Deputy had showed compassion 15 or 20 years ago, it would have made a big difference.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The difficult choice is to tackle the powerful elements. However, it is the interests of the more powerful that the Taoiseach's party acts and - shame on it - that increasingly the Labour Party acts. I noted the Taoiseach's defence of the Labour Party. I asked him a question.


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