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Snippet Contents:

I wish to draw attention to something the Ceann Comhairle mentioned at the start of today's debate. He asked all Deputies not to distribute the contents of the budget before the budget speeches were completed. We were not permitted to take the documents out of the room, but the Tánaiste did just that. Before the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform had even stood up to deliver his speech, the Tánaiste had tweeted out large parts of the budget which was contained in the speech that was yet to be given. Perhaps he could not contain his enthusiasm for another Fine Gael Thatcherite budget but I understand that Phil Hogan was previously forced to resign over leaking the details of a budget. Will there be any consequences for the Tánaiste?
The framing of this budget by sections of the media as some sort of giveaway budget is entirely false. It is nothing of the sort. This budget does nothing for working people. It makes people's lives harder with eco-austerity measures while providing giveaways for the rich. This budget learns no lessons from the coronavirus crisis. It pays lip service to the impending climate catastrophe but effectively does nothing to address it. There is a reduced PUP and a Scrooge-like refusal to give a Christmas bonus to those recently on the PUP through no fault of their own. Shame on the Government Deputies, particularly those who pretended to be against these cuts but who will vote them through again like they did last week. There is an increase in the carbon tax, which will hit the most vulnerable the hardest, and an increase in motor tax on old, polluting cars for workers who cannot afford a new car and cannot access public transport. There is a rise of less than 1% in the minimum wage, to a miserable €10.20 an hour for those workers who kept society and the economy moving over the past six months and who were rewarded with a clap on a Thursday night. There is not an extra cent or euro for young people on social welfare, for the core rates of social welfare or for those on the State pension. There is nothing for renters, no ban on evictions and no rent control. There is almost nothing for youth services, which are so important at this time. There is a miserly €2 - one coin - increase in the qualified child payment for under-12s. It is incredible and outrageous to freeze investment in childcare right now, in spite of the crisis which pre-existed Covid and became exposed and worse as a result of it. A completely inadequate €80 million is provided for retrofitting our schools when one quarter of them do not have hot water and 80% do not have the ventilation they need.
There is an air of unreality to the Ministers' speeches about the kind of society in which we are living and the kind of conditions people are facing. I spent some of my day yesterday with a young mother who was waiting for her landlord to come and attempt to evict her illegally. Thanks to the community support she got, the landlord never dared to turn up because he knew she would have been protected by her community who rallied around her. As reported in the papers today, John Johnson and his three sons were not so lucky. They were evicted from their family home of 60 years by a vulture fund on Saturday and the family spent the weekend sleeping out under a bridge. John lost his job in a bar and had his PUP of €350 cut. What is in the budget for them? What giveaway is there for them to ensure we are not faced with similar shocking stories in the next days and weeks? The PUP of €350 is not being restored, evictions are not being stopped and there is no plan to build the 100,000 social houses we actually need to clear the waiting lists.
The reality is that the Government is doing the bare minimum it can get away with. There is no plan here to address the massive inequalities in our society, to fund a zero-Covid strategy or to deal with the climate catastrophe we are facing. In fact, the hiking of the carbon tax will make it more difficult for John and other families like his to get by. The Government is just forcing working people to pay yet another tax to live in a system over which they have no control.