Sinn Féin public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has accused the government of targeting the vulnerable and low and middle income families with the same failed austerity budgetary measures as pursued by Fianna Fáil.
Hitting out at what she labelled the “budget of broken promises” Deputy McDonald said:
“Minister Howlin said that as a Labour Minister he never expected to have to make the announcements he made today. The more pertinent point is that he and the Labour Party led the Irish people to expect very different decisions and choices.
“Last night An Taoiseach told struggling families and working people that they were not responsible for the crisis yet today the government has begun to deliver a budget targeting these very same people for a crisis not of their making.
“Budget 2012 is totally at one with the last failed government. Fine Gael and Labour promised change. Today’s budget consigns all of these promises to the dustbin of two faced, sleeveen politics.
“The decision to cut fuel allowance by €120 is scandalous and will cost lives. By cutting fuel allowance, child benefit for 3rd and 4th children, payments for lone parents on CE and some job seekers’ payments the Minister is sucking €475 million out of local economies. This cut will hit older people and those with disabilities worst. Increasing the student contribution fee by €250 will make education the preserve of the elite. Cutting the disability allowance for 16 and 17 year olds is a scandal. The 2% cut to school capitation grants will be a real cost passed on to parents.
“Is ionann straitéis eacnamaíochta an Rialtais sea agus an straitéis a bhí ag Fianna Fáil agus na Glasaigh. Ta sibh go léir ag dul sa treo céanna – an bóther mícheart do mhuintir na hÉireann
“Tar éis olltoghchán bhí an pobal ag súil le athrú. Ach rinne tú feall orthu. Tá gach gealltanas caite at leathaobh agaibh.
“Rising unemployment, emigration, the collapse of our domestic economy and the misery facing struggling families are a damning indictment of Labour and Fine Gael’s record in Government.
“In government Labour and Fine Gael chose to protect those on sky high wages and pension pay-outs in the upper echelons of the public sector. There’s no chance of this government giving a ‘times are tough’ pep talk to judges, hospital consultants and former failed Taoisigh on big buck pensions.
“The budget deficit must be reduced. That is a given. There is no easy way out of this crisis. But there are different choices to be made.
“Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore insist that the State must pay out billions of euro to unguaranteed bondholders. The reality remains that this debt is unsustainable. The burden of private bank debt must be lifted from the shoulders of citizens. It is not their debt.
“Our economy could be turned around if Sinn Féin’s budget proposals for 2012 were implemented. If this government were serious about getting people back to work it would ramp up investment in infrastructure, not cut the capital budget by €750 million.
“The National Pension Reserve Fund should be used for a stimulus programme. The €5.3billion still left in the fund should be invested in job creation and not pumped yet again into the banks. Additional money should be drawn down from the European Investment Bank. Sinn Féin has set out the real benefits of a €7 billion stimulus plan over three years – such an investment could protect almost 100,000 jobs and create 60,000 additional jobs. But today’s budget will do more harm than good in job terms.”