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Financial Resolutions 2013

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Budget Statement 2013

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Budget Statement 2013

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Deputy Mary Lou McDonald

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Mary Lou McDonald

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Snippet Contents:

It is a pity they did not consider how others - citizens, families, mothers and women - will make it through these times. So enamoured of themselves are they that they still pay themselves way over the odds by European standards. I will give the Taoiseach an example. The French President earns €20,000 a year less than the Taoiseach. French Ministers are paid €40,000 less a year than their Irish counterparts. I will spell that out for him. France is not in a bailout, and its population is 13 times that of our own. Are the Ministers opposite really worth it? Are they for real?
The health service is under unbearable strain; it is just not working. The Minister, Deputy James Reilly, is not up to the job of management or reform. Under his watch 870 hospital beds have closed, 1,200 nursing home beds have closed, 950,000 home help hours have been cut from the system, and there have been cuts to disability services.
We know also that last year's budget was a work of fiction. It is ironic that the very Department that requires a supplementary budget of €360 million, is now to be cut by €1.1 billion in a full year. How on earth will the Minister do that without damaging the most basic of care?
The increase in prescription fees and the cut in the drug refund scheme will add to the distress of patients of all ages but in particular it will add to the distress of parents with sick children.
The Minister gives no credible detail in his budget in terms of the savings he proposes from generic medicines or private income from beds in public hospitals. We do not have the detail on this but it is fascinating that the Minister will make a cut of €44 million to primary schemes. He has hit the electricity and gas package for the elderly by €23 million and their telephone allocation by €61 million.
The Minister has targeted education again. Once again he will ask third level students for an additional €250. I do not know if the Minister sees the contradiction between his stated position for educational excellence for a knowledge economy and pricing students out of education but students can now see his two-faced approach. He sold them a pup at the last election. He will not do that again because the students are not fools.
It is less than three weeks to Christmas and families have scrimped and saved to provide for the holiday period. People do not have very much now, but they still have pride in themselves and in their families. They still have a sense of what is right, fair and just.
The need to take tough decisions is a constant refrain of this Government but tough for who? It confuses hard decisions with bad decisions. It looks for soft options and soft targets. The spectacle of a Government that talks tough when punishing its own people and yet time and again returns home from European Council meetings with its tail between its legs is truly pitiful. It is unworthy of those it represents.
Has the Taoiseach had the tough talk with Angela Merkel or the lads from the troika? Has he told them that we cannot and should not be expected to pay the debts of others? He has not. He disguises his lily-livered, gutless interaction with our European Union partners with guff about repairing our international reputation. Give us a break.
If the Taoiseach is unable to secure a deal on the debt burden, on the promissory note, and if he is incapable of deficit reduction that does not crush low and middle income families then he is not up to the job of government. It is that simple.
This Government is now 20 months in office and this is its second budget. There is nowhere for it to hide. It chose the well-worn path of the Fianna Fáil gang that went before it. Fianna Fáil brought this State to its knees and now Labour and Fine Gael are keeping it there. Fianna Fáil sheltered the rich, protected wealth and insulated privilege. Now this Government follows suit. Its choice is to protect those at the top and punish the rest. It should not come into this Dáil ever again and waffle about fairness. This Government is not fair. It could not handle fairness, and its budget today is testament to that.