Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to

Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 94 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin] The Minister for Finance has indicated that the forthcoming budget will involve the State borrowing to run a deficit of 0.1% of GDP. That is what he told the House last week. This will amount to between €250 million and €300 million. What is the economic logic of borrowing €250 million or €300 million to set it aside in a rainy day fund?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In his first question, Deputy Howlin was asking us to borrow a whole lot more.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I am asking for the Government's logic.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney What we have been doing - Deputy Howlin had a part in the first half of this - is fixing an economy to ensure it is fit for purpose and we do not create bubbles in any of its sectors. We have been warned by many independent economists this year not to overspend or allow Ireland to fall back into a cycle of boom and bust, which, unfortunately, has happened repeatedly in recent Irish history. We will not overspend money or borrow just because we are allowed to do so under EU fiscal rules. Ireland is now in control of its own destiny again. The Government will borrow a modest amount of money next year. We will ensure we put a rainy day fund aside which will be built up over time. We will not put too much money into the fund in any one year and our primary focus will be on investing in parts of the economy that need capital investment in particular. That is the prudent course of action and Deputy Howlin, as a former Minister for Finance, should understand that.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The logic of that is that the Government should not borrow the money and instead have a balanced budget.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett We do not need a rainy day fund. We need a sunny day fund because the current heatwave and the warnings from Irish Water about water shortages have yet again exposed the completely decrepit state of Ireland's water infrastructure and the disastrous consequences of decades of underinvestment by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil-led Governments. In particular, the current crisis has been exacerbated by the decisions from 2010 onwards, first by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party and subsequently continued by Fine Gael and the Labour Party, to cut the capital investment programme for fixing the water infrastructure by €50 million per year. We have now reached the point that 49% of water is lost through leaks from the mains infrastructure, rather than household wastage. It is particularly infuriating that spokespersons for the parties that imposed the cuts and austerity on the water investment programme have the cheek to blame householders for the problem when they know that the expert commission the Government set up to look into water usage in this country concluded categorically that there was no evidence of excessive household wastage and that household usage in Ireland is lower than that of Great Britain, which has water charges. I repeat that usage here is lower than in Britain. That is what the Government's expert commission concluded. We use 110 litres per day per house while in Great Britain, which has water charges, average household usage is 140 litres per day. Why do Government spokespersons and representatives of parties that slashed the investment programme for water infrastructure persist in blaming householders? The reality is that householders are reaping the bitter fruits of the Government's decision to cut investment in fixing our decrepit and broken water infrastructure. The evidence is still there. There has been a leak on Kildare Street for two weeks. The Tánaiste should go outside and take a look at it. On Friday, I managed to have a case featured on national radio involving one street in Dún Laoghaire where residents reported water leakage and water shortages in January. Irish Water did not arrive to look at the problem until June and has said it cannot fix it until August.

Last Updated: 04/03/2020 14:47:39 First Page Previous Page Page of 94 Next Page Last Page