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Budget Statement 2013

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Deputy Pearse Doherty

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Snippet Contents:

In recent weeks, people across this State have been gripped by two emotions - hope and fear. They were hoping that the budget the Minister announced today would have made things better, that it would bring jobs and help rebuild our broken economy. They also hoped that it would improve the health and education systems, and that it would ease the burden they have been carrying since 2008.
They are also fearful, however, that the Minister would do what he did last year, that he will continue to repeat the mistakes of Fianna Fáil, and that he will continue to make ordinary people pay for the bad decisions of bankers and politicians.
People want this Government to succeed. Even those who voted against it and did not want it in office, want it to succeed. Like hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, I have shared their hope that this budget would be different, would break with the failures of the past, would chart a new course and would make things better. Today, however, the Minister has dashed all our hopes and has confirmed all our fears. Despite his best attempts to spin what has been announced today, one thing is crystal clear. If I had closed my eyes during either of the Government Ministers' speeches, I could have been listening to Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan or anyone else from Fianna Fáil delivering the same speech. They proposed and implemented many of the decisions that have been announced today. Fine Gael and Labour have swallowed the failed economic policies of Fianna Fáil, hook, line and sinker, and are now implementing them with gusto.
As I listened to the Minister, I wondered if he was living in a different reality to the rest of us. His failure truly to grasp what ordinary people across this State are going through is shocking. I have met these people across the country in towns and villages. They tell me that they are living from week to week; they are finding it tough and are barely able to get by. They are the mothers who go without dinner so their children can eat. They are the fathers who stand in the dole queue, trying to keep some of their pride and wondering if they will be able to meet the bills that are coming in. They are the elderly who gave their lives and taxes to this State and are now living in poverty. Their help is being stripped away from them in every single budget, yet they still hold themselves with dignity.
I am embarrassed to stand in this Chamber, where we are so proud to have been elected to serve, and hear the Minister and the Government let these people down so badly. The Minister pretends that their suffering is not real. What has been delivered in this House today is a bill for the ordinary families of Ireland. It is a bill that picks up the tab for the failed policies of Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – three parties that have caused, deepened and lengthened the recession.
In December 2010, Fine Gael and Labour stood on this side of the House and rightly lambasted Fianna Fáil for introducing its fourth consecutive austerity budget. When in opposition, Deputy Eamon Gilmore said Fianna Fáil had introduced cuts that broke new ground in political stupidity. He then crossed to the Government benches and did exactly the same thing, not once but twice.