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A little late in the day for Noonan to be worried about austerity rules - Doherty

10 March, 2015 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin TD and Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said is a little late in the day for Minister Michael Noonan to be worried about the EU’s austerity rules. Deputy Doherty said he believed the Minster's new found concern is related to the application from next year of the “expenditure benchmark” which would limit government spending and tax cuts.

Deputy Doherty said:

“It is a little late in the day for Minister Noonan to be getting worried about the austerity rules. He campaigned for them and has implemented them in this State regardless of the social and economic cost over the last four years.”

“As early as last June when it became clear that there was a French and Italian campaign for a looser interpretation of the rules I called on the Minister to row in behind this campaign. I was met with silence.”

“I suspect the Minister’s complaints will be met with surprise from fellow EU Finance Ministers who have watched Minister Noonan jump through every austerity hoop over four years. He is one of the longest serving Finance Ministers and one of the architects of these rules. His hard-line approach to Greece is also at odds with this pre-announced stunt.”

“Let’s be clear. Minister Noonan and his government have loyally implemented the austerity rules on cuts and reductions without protest. I am more inclined to believe his sudden concern at the EU's rules may be related to the limits of the “expenditure benchmark”. This rule which will apply to Ireland’s budget in October will, according to a parliamentary reply I have received, limit Ireland’s new expenditure including any tax cuts to €400m. Given the government has already promised significant tax cuts for the better off this rule would limit their ability to provide an election Budget.”

“It is hard to draw any other conclusion that this government is happy to implement austerity rules when they mean cuts but suddenly have an issue when the rules stop them giving more tax cuts before an election. Their focus should be on ensuring the benchmark does not prevent the government improving and protecting the Irish people’s public services and living standards. If Minister Noonan is prepared to take up that battle no matter how late in the day it is, Sinn Féin will support him” 

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