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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald] However, the Deputy's party is content to have people living on €87 a week. That is to have brass neck. The budget is a difficult one because it aims to restore the country's finances and get us out of the economic mess we inherited. It protects basic rates of social welfare and children in the classroom - there are no cuts to basic education services. It protects health services and introduces the biggest package of taxes on wealth ever been seen in a budget, certainly in my time in the House, which will raise more than €500 million. The approach the Government is taking to what is a difficult budget is to protect those on low and middle incomes and ask those with the broadest shoulders to bear the most.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is not true. The Government is not doing that.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Using that logic, on planet Gilmore, the Labour Party and Fine Gael, the ones with the broadest shoulders are children. Is that right? The ones with the broadest shoulders are carers who rely on a very meagre respite care grant? Is that the case?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg Listen to what was said.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Tánaiste referred to the North. I wish he would do his homework properly when he investigates matters north of the Border.

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring That would look bad for Sinn Féin.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald In comparing the system here and the one in place in the North he is comparing apples and oranges.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring Oranges and rotten apples.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald There are many things people pay for here that we do not pay for in the North. That is a fact.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Can we have order for the person who is speaking, please?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Today the social welfare measures the Tánaiste promised to avoid will be rushed through the Dáil. Yet again, the Labour Party and Fine Gael will be seen as brazenly targeting children, carers and mothers and making absolutely no apology for it. They had their chance to have a change of heart. Do they know something? They would have had the full backing of the general public if they had had the courage of their convictions. I have said this to the Tánaiste before. It is not merely the case that the people cannot trust the Labour Party in government. The Labour Party cannot trust itself. It jumps at the whim of Fine Gael. Let it address itself to carers, in particular, mothers and children and explain to them why its masterplan for economic recovery relies on causing them hardship.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government's economic plan is about restoring the country's economic sovereignty and getting us out of the economic mess in which we find ourselves. Everybody in the country understands this and that this is difficult and will not happen overnight. Sinn Féin has a fairy tale that we have to make a €3.5 billion budget adjustment, but it also claims that it can produce fairy tale solutions to the problem. The Deputy mentioned homework. She did not do much on her party's proposals. She did not even have them costed by the Department of Finance.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald That is a lie.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Of course, there is a reason for that. It is not just laziness; it is being clever. Sinn Féin knows very well that its proposals are an absolute fairy tale.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín They have been published.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Then its Deputies comes into the Chamber and give the impression that carers and people on disability and invalidity pensions have had their money cut. That is not the case.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The respite care grant has been cut.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore None of the basic rates of social welfare payments for carers, people on invalidity pension, pensioners, widows and widowers, those on jobseeker's benefit has been cut. All such payments have been protected by the Government, even in the most difficult of times.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is sleight of hand. Pensioners' payments are down.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore As for people on low incomes, this is the Government that has restored the minimum wage, introduced legislation to restore joint labour committees for those on low pay and removed more than 300,000 from the USC net. Most important, it is committed to ensuring we generate employment and economic recovery.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín There are 20,000 fewer jobs.

(Interruptions).

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The best way to tackle poverty and disadvantage is to maximise the number at work and have a successful economy.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan Why does the Government not do it then?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It is determined to do it. We will clear up the mess left by our predecessors who brought the IMF into the country.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan The Government is worse.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We are sending it home, with the troika, and restoring the country's economic sovereignty. We are getting people back to work and restoring the country's economic fortunes. Sinn Féin's only answer is the fairytale it calls its economic policy.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan The Government is doing a great job. Ask carers.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Fabulous.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan That is some answer. Fair play to the Tánaiste. Who has the broadest shoulders?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Can I have order for Deputy Shane Ross, please?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Deputy Aodhan Ó Ríordáin should go down to Sherriff Street.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I am interested in the Tánaiste's painting of the brave new dawn. It has been a bad week and a bad year for the finances of the country. In view of the fact that the Taoiseach stated yesterday there would be no wave of repossessions, which runs contrary to what was stated in the Financial Times and other global media and about which the Government is so sensitive, why has the decision been made to introduce legislation to allow the banks greater powers of repossession next year?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Outrageous.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross It is because the troika has told the Government to do this. It will be open season on home owners in 2013 because that legislation will not plug a loophole, rather it will allow the banks to repossess at will.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Yes.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross State-owned banks are going to be used as agents, with the connivance of the Government, to put people out of their own homes on a scale not seen so far.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Bailiffs.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross That is what the Minister for Finance has stated. In addition - this is the reason I say it will be open season on home owners - the Government has extraordinarily decided on the issue of a property tax that it will bring in the heavies to collect the money from those who are unable to pay.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Big Phil is back, too.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross For some reason the Revenue Commissioners have been selected as the collectors of this tax, not any other body. Why is this? The reason is that people will have the property tax which they are unable to pay deducted at source. I am not talking only about the middle classes and high and middle income earners but also about people on social welfare who will be confronted with a situation where the property tax will be taken from their social welfare payment before they can even put food on the table. Will the Tánaiste tell me why the Revenue Commissioners were selected to do this? Is it because the Government knew and did not care, that people would be unable to pay?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The sheriff, too.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government has made it very clear that we want to keep people in their own homes and avoid having homes repossessed. That is why at a very early stage in the life of the Government we put in place the Keane group which came forward with a list of recommendations to address the problem of repossessions as as result of mortgage arrears. That is the reason we introduced, for the first time, legislation which I expect will be completed either this week or next, namely, the Personal Insolvency Bill which will introduce radical changes to our personal insolvency laws-----

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan The banks have a veto.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----and strengthen the hand of home owners in their dealings with banks. This legislation is long overdue.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Banks will have a veto.


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