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Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed)

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Snippet Contents:

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the budget, albeit a week after the budget was passed. I understand that in times gone by it was common for the budget debate to span many weeks. Perhaps the fizz has gone out of the bottle somewhat since the weeks before the budget have become the time for the primary debate rather than the weeks afterwards. There are few surprises on budget day that have not been flagged in advance and focus groups tested. Some items are withdrawn and added before and after the budget. This is the first budget adopted in what is termed a time of new politics. I welcome the new politics and I find it normal and democratic. The old days of winner takes all and an absolutist rule by a majority Government do not reflect a fair exercise of the mandate of 158 Deputies elected to the Chamber. Although the last Government had the biggest majority in the history of the State, few would suggest it was a good Government, as last February's election showed. For decades in the North of Ireland we saw how an inbuilt majority could scupper every piece of legislation from the other side of the House. In 40 years of Stormont, the only piece of Nationalist legislation to be passed was the Wild Birds Protection (Northern Ireland) Act 1931.
Minority governments are commonplace across Europe. Recently, I was privileged to visit the Danish Parliament with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The Danish Government serves with only one third of the seats in the Parliament. Our near neighbour, the National Assembly for Wales, also has a minority arrangement. Earlier this year, after our Government had been formed but before the Welsh Government had, it studied the confidence and supply arrangement which we have in place for guidance. I hope it was of some assistance. The Scottish and many other parliaments also have such arrangements. However, some Dáil Members struggle with our new arrangements. Some show withdrawal symptoms from the overly adversarial days of the past. Some seem to seek the Punch and Judy show and a binary arrangement in which one side must lose in order for the other side to win, including some in the media, some Deputies and some Ministers.