Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Budget 2018 normalises mass homelessness of children - Pearse Doherty TD

10 October, 2017 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has described today’s budget as a budget that tolerates and normalises mass homelessness of young people and children.

He said the government’s decision to allocate such a huge proportion of available resources on tax cuts shows that it does not understand the reality on the ground for ordinary families.

Teachta Doherty said;

“Minister, you know that it is possible to balance the books while at the same time beginning the process of sorting the crises in our health and housing sectors through meaningful investment. You know this because Sinn Féin’s alternative budget demonstrates exactly that.

“But what does your version of balancing the books mean for the child who hears their mother locked in the bathroom of their hotel room crying night after night because she feels that she is failing her daughter.

“What does it mean for the parents who have to watch their children suffer in pain because they cannot get access to treatment in our crumbling health services?

“How comforting is your version of balancing the books for the elderly man lying on a hospital trolley today.

“These are the realities of your policies and you are furthering and normalising these policies here today with the help of Fianna Fáil.

“Unfortunately the only conclusion we can come to Minister is that you simply don’t get it.

“You don’t get what it’s like to have to wait and wait and wait to access hospital services while you’re suffering in pain;  you don’t get what its like to have to wait on a hospital trolley and the loss of dignity that goes with that; you don’t get what it means to be a frontline worker in these circumstances; you don’t get what its like to bring your kids up in a hotel room, bringing them through the hotel every morning in their school uniforms while the other hotel guests look on in bemusement.

“Even if you got this just a little bit, you wouldn’t be coming in here prioritising tax cuts.  Because every cent that you put into tax cuts is money that money that could be used to rebuild our health services and to build homes.

“This is a budget that tolerates and normalises mass homelessness of young people and children.  It is a budget that normalises our crumbling health services.  The people deserve better than that.  This is not something that Sinn Fein will stand over and it is a disgrace that this is the best that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil can cobble together.

“Where’s the urgency?  There’s people dying on our streets! Or hadn’t you noticed?”

ENDS//

NOTE: Full text of Teachta Doherty’s speech follows - Check against delivery

Introduction:

This time last year I spoke about a missed opportunity. I spoke about how the Budget should be judged on its impact for the families living in hotels and patients on hospital trollies.

So now a year on what was the result?

In October 2016 when the last Budget was announced there were 2,470 homeless children in the State. Last month there were 3,048…..

That is what Budget 2017 delivered. That is what the so-called Centre delivers.

The government with Fianna Fáil’s support cut over half a billion of taxes in that Budget. 

How dare they come back in here this year and propose more of the same while our citizens are denied basic rights?

In the real world, in modern Ireland in the year 2017 there are people dying on our streets because of a massive housing supply crisis. 

Out there in today’s Ireland the equivalent of the population of roughly ten counties, nearly 700,000 people, are currently languishing on hospital waiting lists, many in chronic pain waiting on much needed operations, 

while other patients are left on hospital trolleys in our A&E Departments. Today there were 514 people in trollies.

Yet, Fine Gael, their independent friends and Fianna Fail, have come in here today and told us it is the time to cut taxes in a return to the boom and bust politics of the past.

And they have find €5 million per year on your government's spin machine although previously Taoiseach Varadkar said this would be cost neutral.  

That's the equivalent of 50 resource teachers and 56 SNAs but you feel this money would be better spent improving the government's image.

At the centre of this Budget is a lie- that we can fix the health and housing crises while cutting taxes. 

Those who support this Budget know that is a lie- the same lie they tried to spin last year.

It says something about how little the government can achieve when its main claim about this Budget- is that it will balance the books. 

Minister, you know that it is possible to balance the books while at the same time beginning the process of sorting the crises in our health and housing sectors through meaningful investment. 

You know this because Sinn Féin’s alternative Budget demonstrates exactly that.

But what does your version of balancing the books mean for the child who hears their mother locked in the bathroom of their hotel room crying night after might because she feels that she is failing her daughter?

What does it mean for the parents who have to watch their children suffer in pain because they cannot access to treatment in our crumbling health services?

How comforting is your version of balancing the books for the elderly man lying on a hospital trolley today?

These are the realities of your policies and you are furthering and normalising these policies here today with the help of Fianna Fáil.

Unfortunately, the only conclusion we can come to Minister is that you simply don’t get it. 

You don’t get what it’s like to have to wait and wait to access hospital services while suffering in pain;

You don’t get what it’s like to have to wait on a hospital trolley and the suffer the loss of dignity that goes with that;

You don’t get what it means to be a frontline worker in these circumstances –

You don’t get what it’s like to bring your kids up in a hotel, to send them of every morning in their school uniforms while the other hotel guests look on in bemusement.

Even if you could get this just a little bit, you wouldn’t be coming in here prioritising tax cuts. 

Because every cent that you put into tax cuts is money that could be used to rebuild our health services and to build homes.

This is a Budget that tolerates and normalises mass homelessness of young people and children. It is a Budget that normalises our crumbling health services.

The people deserve better than that. 

Sinn Féin will not stand over these choices and it is a disgrace that this is the best Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil can cobble together.

Where’s the urgency? There are people dying on our streets! Or hadn’t you noticed? 

In the midst of the darkest days of recession in 2012 there were fewer kids in homelessness and fewer kids in poverty than there are today, five years later.  There were also fewer people on trolleys and hospital waiting lists in 2012.

The need to be seen to cut taxes means this Budget amounts to too little spread too thin for the services our people use every day of our lives.

Your entire energy was spent on negotiating tax cuts and the health, housing and other needs of the population has to make do with whatever was left over. 

The result will be that in 12 months’ time we will be back here and the previous 11 months will have been taken up with us talking about the state of our waiting lists in health and housing and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will wonder why there has been no progress…

Today is why- you have cut the Health budget, no new targets for homes to be delivered extra for housing, and €335m for tax cuts is why.

TAX:

Níl le déanamh againn ach srachfhéachaint a thabhairt do na beartais cánachais atá sa bhuiséad chun an gné lochtach de a fheiceáil. 

Níl plaen ar bith anseo. Níl ann ach buiseád a bhí curtha le chéile faoi deifir ionas gur thig leis an rialtas an seachmall a chruthú go n-éireodh go geal libh chun a gcuid gealltanais lochtacha  a chomhlíonadh.

In ainneoin é seo, tá a fhios ag madaí na sráid fiú go ndearna sibh praiseach ceart ó thaobh na bearta atá á moladh agaibh inniú.

 I want to send my congratulations to both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael for winning the battle over which tax cut to make. 

Two tax cutting parties couldn’t decide which way to cut taxes so they cut it twice- geniuses!

I am sure that bit of political theatre was of great interest to our homeless families.

 Cutting USC and widening the tax bands will help some people but it will help some people more than others and those who benefit most are those who earn most… 

Giving someone on an income of €20,000 a measly €53 back a year, a euro a week. 

Some on €25,000, €66 back a year… just over a Euro a week. 

Those on €30,000 are in line for the life changing amount of €78 per annum… €1.50 per week.  

This is stark, with over 50% of the population having incomes under €30,000 to be in line for €1.50 a week.

While, Fianna Fail, those crusaders for equality, have managed to ensure that this budget package includes a reduction in the USC rate of 5%, meaning that those on income of €70,000 get €328 per annum. 

Which is over four times anyone on €30,000 is in line for. 

For a package of personal tax measures worth €335 million, the major benefits goes to those much higher than those on average income.

To put that €1.50 a week in context House Prices are rising by €50 a day…

More importantly, it amounts to spare change while our public services and infrastructure are still recovering from the brutality of the austerity years.

Brexit and Capital: 

If there is one thing a Budget can do that can really physically shape the country we live in it is to set out a vision for the infrastructure of the country.  

That is a challenge- to have the foresight and political courage to invest in the long term interest of the people.

Sadly, the Minister doesn’t do long term. 

Another year without the imagination to invest in our railways, our roads, our schools, our hospitals and our cross-border infrastructure passes us by. 

In normal times that would be a bad mistake. At a time we are facing the threat of Brexit it is unforgivable.  

The measures announced today are at best, weak, at worst, counter-productive. 

Brexit could lead to up to a 7 percent drop in GNP and nothing the minister has announced today will help the Irish state prepare for it.

Now is the time to build up our defences, to look to our transport hubs, to bring balance to the State and look to our towns and cities outside of Dublin.

The failed Fine Gael and Fianna Fail model of tax breaks for private developers, funded by the selling of public assets, is a disaster waiting to happen. 

The Minister talks about Brexit- launches an odd scheme here and there but misses the big picture. 

The Minister said he is taking us on  a journey it's one where he's selling off the wheels to pay for the petrol.

The short-sightedness of this budget is staggering. 

It ignores those who will bear the brunt of this lack of vision.

The Minister's plans for a loan scheme for Brexit does not get to the heart of the issue - which is to invest to meet the challenges of Brexit.

The minister's capital expenditure plan of €790m is half that of Sinn Féin's plan of €1.6bn

The Minister's plans will struggle to cover depreciation costs alone, never mind lead to the type of increased capacity that is so desperately needed.

And this would be the case if all of the capital spend was direct spend but we know that it is not. 

The minister will instead use capital spending to support speculators. This is a disgrace

Not just Brexit but changes in how America faces out to the world and how the EU manages its affairs are coming. 

These are things largely beyond our control and we are a small boat in an open sea.  What we can control is our own infrastructure- we can make sure our transport and energy and water systems are fit for purpose. 

We can make sure we have the strongest base going into choppy waters.

That is the sensible thing to do but the Minister doesn’t do sensible – he does tax cuts.

The Government’s capital investment plan puts capital investment at just 2.16% of GNP for 2018; this is shockingly low capital investment and is both reckless and unsustainable. 

It will also ensure that our capital investment remains one of the lowest in the EU in 2018.

For every euro in tax cuts up to €4 in capital investment is foregone. It is a shocking use of what limited space we have. This Budget fails the Brexit test because it fails the investment test.

Sinn Féin’s Capital Investment Plan - “Fighting Brexit”- would increase capital spend by €1.65 billion euro above the government’s plans, resulting in a rate of capital investment to GNP of 2.84%. 

Spin and announcements won’t see off the challenge of Brexit but a well- planned and ambitious Capital Plan will give us the boost the economy needs.

This is not a Budget fit for a country catching up on infrastructure and with a young, growing population.

The State’s infrastructure is creaking after years of an investment drought. 

More and more international investors and companies identify this infrastructural deficit as the biggest issue facing the country.

HEALTH:

Let’s look at you have just announced and compare it to the reality of what is needed:

From the Budget document we see that €646 million of this increase is Current expenditure.  

Let’s examine what Health needs just to stand-still.  

Health needs 129m for demographics i.e. population growth and ageing in 2018, Health needs 165m extra to cover the cost of Pay Agreements and it needs 97 million of carryover – i.e. to cover the full year costs of measures announced this time last year. 

It also needs a Budget increase of 300m to cover the overspend i.e. to properly fund it for what it actually delivers. 

So in summary Health actually needs an increase of 691m next year simply to stand still.  

This government and its backers in Fianna Fáil have chosen to leave our health system short of the money that is needed to standstill.  

In real terms they are cutting the Budget to health at a time of deep crisis.  Our health system will be in worse shape this time next year as a consequence of the Budget before us today.  

That is yet another massive failure to invest in Health- it is simply not a priority.

You just don’t understand the gap between where our health system is, and where it could be.  

Every day people’s rights are being violated because of underfunding of our health system.

€Xm extra simply doesn’t cut it. On a day you have announced income tax cuts of €X hundred million you expect to fix the health service by announcing €xm extra. 

Not in the real world Minister.

Not that you would know listening to the Minister as he balances his books but our health service is on its knees, from primary and community care to our acute hospitals, and everything in between.

Only last month senior doctors in the Irish Hospital Consultants Association warned that there was clear evidence that our acute hospitals are beginning to fail.

The continuous crises in our health service have meant that people have become almost immune to shocking stories and news about it. 

But this can never become normalised.

In January this year 612 patients were left on trolleys, the highest ever recorded number of patients on trolleys in the state.

This is not normal.

Currently there are nearly 690,000 people waiting for surgeries across the state, the highest number ever recorded.

This is not normal.

As of May there were 29,688 people waiting on a first-time occupational therapy consultation.

Nearly half these were children and teenagers.

This is not normal.

The list goes on. 

It’s a litany of shame.

You have failed to run a functioning health service and are continuing to preside over such failure. 

Let me just explain how bad your failures have been over the course of your time in Government since 2011 . During that time the following happened to a child in Dublin. She is just one example of thousands.

The child in question was diagnosed with scoliosis and her parents were told she needed surgery.

The young girl joined the waiting list like many others and she waited, and waited, and waited. 

She was left waiting almost two years for her spinal fusion surgery.

Because she was left waiting so long the surgery didn’t take correctly and the young girl’s spine continued to curve.

The screws in her spine have now become loose and are causing her severe pain. 

This young girl is now back on the spinal fusion list for scoliosis surgery again and in chronic pain and she has been waiting almost six months for her second surgery but with no set date in sight.

These are your policies and this is what they lead to.

This is not normal no matter how often it happens.

Your failures in health not only destroy the moral of the diligent staff in our health service, but they put lives at risk. 

No doubt they have cost lives too.

But to what ends.

This is not the fallout of ambivalence.

This is policy - this is your policy.

This is the commodification of healthcare and the dereliction of the role of the state in protecting the sick and the vulnerable.

Cé gur tháinig meadú ar an bhuiséad sláinte anuraidh, níor chuidigh an t-airgead seo ach leis an tseirbhís a choinneáil i bhfeidhm.

Bhí ciorruithe suntasacha déanta den bhuideád sláinte idir 2012 agus 2015 agus mar thorradh orthu, tá an maoiniú meadaithe á fhógairt agaibh de dhíth chun na bearnaí a líonadh 

Because the health spend was cut so significantly in the years 2012 through 2015, this leaves the health service using any slight funding increases to essentially plug the gaps that your cuts have led to.

We can see what these cuts and this privatisation agenda have meant for patients, but what has it meant for staff.

The recruitment moratorium in the health sector which was introduced by Fianna Fail two years before any other sector of the public service severely damaged our health service.

So too did your continuation of this policy.

Your policies and inability to address the problems in the sector have reaped a whirlwind on the health service.

As a result we now are faced with a recruitment and retention crisis in the health service as staff leave or even refuse to countenance working in the system.

And what has the Government response been?

For the Ministers for Health to come out and beg healthcare staff to give the HSE another chance and work in Ireland.

This comes brazenly in spite of the HSE and this Government repeatedly ignoring healthcare professionals’ basic appeals for better working conditions, adequate training, and fair play.

As Dr David Tansey said in a letter to the Irish Times last week –

“Such a response illustrates a worrying indifference on the part of this Government to addressing the reasons behind why so many of our young healthcare professionals are emigrating. Such a cavalier attitude of expecting young doctors and nurses to return to a HSE in a worse state than it was five years ago, just because the Minister asked them to, is both naïve and disrespectful to medical professionals on the front line.”

There is no doubt that this government has no plan for healthcare- they inherited a crisis and they have no intention of fixing it.

Even beyond funding they will not embrace the reform and initiatives needed.

There does have to be better ideas and management of the funding that is provided.

Take for example the idea of a single integrated waiting list management system which would create a national waiting list of patients and procedures.

Such a master waiting list could utilise the full capacity of our hospitals and the skillsets of our doctors and nurses and allow patients to have their procedures carried out quicker in a hospital that has the ability to do so rather than waiting for months on a list for a single hospital.

Sinn Fein have pushed this idea for over two years now under the name Comhliosta, and despite promises from the Minister for Health to pilot such a project, there has been little movement.

That is a constructive idea- what do we get today from Fine Gael and Fianna Fail? More money for the NTPF- outsourcing our health system.

Putting money into the NTPF will not significantly reduce waiting lists. 

It will just divert much needed funds from the public sector to the private sector.

And to the benefits from this, because it won't be patients waiting for surgeries.

Instead it will be private interests who seek to profit from people’s sickness and illness.

Sinn Féin do have a plan- it’s called Universal Health care and it works.

We all accept investment is not the only answer to the issues in our health system but anybody who dismisses it as anything other than the key to improving our health system is wrong.

There is no way to deliver the 500 extra beds next year we need to tackle the A and E scandal next year without more investment. 

The 250 extra nurse and midwives for our maternity services must be delivered through the public purse.

This investment should be the start of a move towards universal health care. That is the way to end the permanent state of crisis in our hospitals and other services.

Tá cearta daonna á ndúiltiú agaibh de bharr polasaí an rialtais, gan tracht a dhéanamh ar an easpa maoiniú atá á thabhairt dár  gcuid óspidéil fosta

Mar a dúirt mé, tá bealach eile ann – bealach níos cothroime. Ach, ar an drochuair, tá achan cuma ar scéal inniú nach bhfuil fonn ar bith ar an Aire chun an infheistíocht chuí a dhéanamh agus na leasuithe chuí a chur i gcrích

There is another way but unfortunately I hear no evidence today that the Minister is up for the investment and reform needed. 

It is clear from the announcements today that the health of our people will have to wait another year to be considered a priority it would seem.

Disability:

The Government’s record when it comes to people with disabilities has been appalling. 

The fact that we are the last remaining EU state left to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), despite being the first to sign up to it, speaks for itself. Mór ár náire!

Minister Mc Grath has made this his Alamo. On a day the government is cutting over €300m in tax the Independent Alliance have to stake it all on delivering €3m from the Budget for the basic rights of people with disabilities.

€300m tax cuts is fine- €3m to implement United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is controversial!

People with disabilities in Ireland are at almost twice the risk of living in poverty as the general population. 

There is a serious lack of appropriate, accessible private and social housing. There is a lack of accessible and readily available public transport, parking and public spaces people with disabilities have great difficulty finding and retaining employment. 

Respite Care services fall well short of what is required. The amount of Personal Assistant hours don’t even come close to what is needed. 

Parents are being forced to spend hundreds of euro every month on private therapy if they want to see their child talk, walk, or have any hope of realising their individual potential. The situation as it stands is dire.

Budget 2018 was an opportunity for the Government and Fianna Fáil to make a real difference in the lives of those who are living with a disability in Ireland. 

For our part, Sinn Féin put forward our proposals as part of our costed alternative budget. The Disability allowance should be increased by €6. The need of people of disabilities in education and housing should be addressed.

MENTAL HEALTH 

Today is World Mental Health Day Minister.

Thankfully, in recent years, there has been a sea change in our attitudes as a society towards mental health. 

Unfortunately, the resources have not always followed the more progressive thinking and today is no different. 

In mental health the govermnet have yet again theoretically allocated the magic €35 million figure.  They announce this every year. The actual full spend has yet to materialise. 

It's literally a copy and paste from last years Budget document which is about as much thought as this government ever give to the vital issue of mental health.

.

Young people with Mental Health issues in Ireland are suffering at the hands of severe under funding. They are among our most vulnerable citizens yet we are not protecting them or respecting their rights.

Currently, staffing levels of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAHM) services are at a meagre 53% staffing levels of those recommended within a Vision for Change, which is causing excessively long waiting lists and endless distress on young people and their parents. 

As of July 2017, over 2,400 children and young people were awaiting assessment by CAMHS. 

These young people and their families face travel issues due to the inordinate distance that they have to travel to access mental healthcare.

We need 12 additional Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams. That would cost €8.9 million in 2018- is that not a worthwhile investment? 

There is agreement across the mental health community that the implementation of A Vision for Change has been incomplete and uneven – despite widespread support across service users and providers. 

Not my words Minister – Mental Health Reform’s. 

That is a damning indictment not only of Fine Gael’s failure to commit to and drive the mental health strategy, but also of Fianna Fáil’s. 

Eleven years have passed since the strategy was first launched. Mental Health Reforms recent review also identifies a number of policy shortfalls within the strategy itself.

 Shortfalls that are being exasperated by the emergency in social and affordable housing and failures to adequately protect the rights of mental health service users.

We have to do better. Tá bealach eile níos fearr de dhíth. Caithfear freastal ar riachtanais an phobail i dtaca le meabhairshláinte

This is about real people and real lives- not a political game played out for the media.

(NEW) In 2017 a woman in James Connolly hospital was found to have taken her life in a side room of the emergency department. 

All psychiatric beds were occupied. 

She had nowhere to go and staff had no ability to care for her properly. This tragic story is not exceptional unfortunately.

Deputy McDonald previously raised the case of Ryan Dempsey with the former Taoiseach having met his family. 

A young man, just 22, he died alone in a ward off A&E in James Hospital, without hope that he would get the care he needed. He had presented to A&E and been discharged 5 times in just 6 months. 

There was never a place for him.

Ryan and others were failed by a system which is not fit for purpose due to decades of neglect and under funding.

CAMHS services in places like Cork have turned away children who have expressed suicidal thoughts because they simply cannot take on more cases.  

Staffing levels in the service are at just over 50% with this chaotic environment taking a huge toll on those working there.

In Cherry Orchard in Dublin, 11 CAMHS beds were closed this year out of a total of 63 across the state well below the promised 100. The unit Linn Dara was opened just 2 years ago

Sinn Féin’s alternative Budget provides for an additional €51.23 million investment in mental health services and care. We’ve identified a number of areas where additional funding is urgently needed.

Needed- not wanted- not wished for- needed to keep people alive. Instead the government have allocated only €35m, a highly doubtful figure.

Community mental health 24/7 crisis intervention needs to move beyond the current Monday to Friday weekday service. If we are to have crisis service that is fit for purpose we need to move to a seven-day roster. 

Currently, at risk and vulnerable people are being left with no option but to attend emergency departments or garda stations – wholly inappropriate settings.  

Sinn Féin would triple the current budget for counselling in primary care, increase the number of mental health and intellectual disability nurses, fund counselling and other mental health services for people in Direct Provision and better resource suicide crisis assessment nurses.  

HOUSING:

The tenth of October, today, is not just Budget day in this small country. It is World Homeless Day.

I don’t know if the Minister was aware when he announced his housing budget for next year. 

No additional social housing units on existing targets. 

No capital investment in affordable homes. Limited funds or getting vacant units into use.

Only 3000 units on the social housing targets through to 2021 above the existing plan.

No change to overall social housing target. The existing target is 5869 units. This was from when Simon Coveney was Minister. Now it is 5900 units. 


€26m for Repair and Lease is a very low level of investment in securing access to vacant properties. There should be ten times this investment in repair and Lease to deliver units.

€25m for Local Investment Housing Activation Fund - no guarantee that any of these units will be affordable. 

Where is the vacant home tax?

Current estimates indicate that houses in developments such as Cherrywood benefiting from this scheme will be selling houses from €340k to €440k

€750m from ISIF for commercial investments, HBFI, with NAMA for private developments.  - Like LIHAF there is no guarantee that this will deliver affordable units 

–proof that the government have given up on our banks doing their job in the economy.

It’s an amount that says you have no intention of eradicating homelessness in this small wealthy country. It is an allocation that says that this government is ok with children living in hotels. 

We have shown what could have been done in Budget 2018 with an investment of capital investment of €1.13bn in housing.

In housing to be fair the government has a plan, it has many plans.

Today we learn of a new plan- new to government but oen I have been calling for for years- one Sinn Féin have legislation in the Seanad to do- to make NAMA play a role in solving our housing crisis.

The Taoiseach and the Minister have this legislation.

I am wary of any further powers for NAMA without an overhaul of their governance structure.

I await the details in full knowledge that all the past plans haven’t addressed the real problem of supply.

None of those plans are working but they have plans after plan, announcement after announcement.

The housing crisis is getting worse. Every section of the housing market is affected - not enough council homes, cost of rents spiralling out of control, inflated house prices.

The figures speak for themselves.

There are over 8000 people homeless, with over 3000 children homeless. 

Many of these children have spent or will spend more than 2 years in emergency accommodation. 

Earlier this month the Government's Special Rapporteur on Child Protection said that emergency accommodation denied children several rights including to health and education and it compromised their ability to develop.

There are 90,000 households on Council waiting lists; many of these lists have a waiting time of over 10 years.

Rents are continuing to rise to unsustainable levels. If you are lucky enough to secure rental accommodation, tenants are often subjected to overcrowded conditions, insecure tenure and poor quality surroundings.

The government’s solution to this is to bring back bedsits. Looking back for an easy option instead of developing progressive solutions.

Local authorities have been starved of the central government resources necessary to conduct inspections of rented accommodation.

There is not enough building going on. 

Flawed government statistics do not accurately reflect the number of new builds coming on stream. Vacant houses blight our city centres and are dotted across the countryside.

Government has tried the carrot approach. Private Developers have been offered public money for site infrastructure in return for affordable housing units. 

Unfortunately this government has no definition of affordable apart from it means different things in different places. 

The provision of affordable homes for rental or sale is unfortunately not a priority for this government. Plans to develop and roll out a cost rental model were announced then abandoned.

In some ways, the answer is easy- build more houses.

That hasn’t happened enough because Fine Gael doesn’t believe in building social housing. There is no other explanation.

The State, before any private build is taken into account, should deliver 10,000 social housing units next year. No excuses. It is our responsibility.

We need a new affordable housing programme to build affordable houses on public land and made available to families earning €75,000 or less.

We need to provide our local councils with the capital needed to deliver affordable rental units.

That is the scale of investment needed. 

‘Seo an dúshláin atá os ár gcomhair. Ach tá Sinn Féin réidh fána choinne.

That is the challenge. Sinn Fein is up for it.

No gimmicks, no spin, no tax breaks- houses for the people.

Childcare- 

This State continues to be decades behind how other countries value, finance and legislate for early years education and care.

Currently we are spending little more than 0.1% on early years’ services in this State. 

We are at the very bottom on the OECD table in relation to expenditure on early childhood educational institutions. 

The result is raised costs for parents, unsustainable services and poor pay and conditions for the early years workforce.

The type of start we give our children inevitably impacts their progress for life. 

There’s an intrinsic link between the working conditions of those responsible for children and the quality of care and outcomes. 

What is required is investment in pay and conditions for those we entrust to mind our children and a genuine State subsidy scheme for all parents who choose to use childcare services so that childcare is affordable.

Many childcare workers have gone to great lengths to obtain qualifications and training, yet low pay means many do not see a long-term career in childcare being financially viable.  That must change. 

They deserve to be paid a fair wage matching the importance of their career. That is a Budgetary matter because the State ultimately subsidises the wages of these workers.

We want an early years and childcare sector which we can be proud of and which is reliable, high quality and affordable to all. 

We are a long way off that and once again this Budget chooses not to address it. 

When it comes to early years investment.  The grand and much leaked annoucement fall far short of what is actually required.  And Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget proposed a 2018 investment some 5 times that of government.  

Sinn Féin's proposals are both affordable and deliverable with the political will.  But this government have decided not to take the soide of struggling parents, childcare workers and community providers. 

At just 63 cent and 73 cent respectively the proposed increases to capitation payments in the free-preschool year are truly paltry and show no understanding of the pressures faced across this critical sector.

The Minister is once again making hollow promises to parents which the sector simply cannot deliver because the investment figure falling short. 

We cannot build a modern economy with childcare on the cheap. The State must put its resources into Childcare as a priority. 

But our youngest citizens and their parents don’t have a government that is on their side.

X€m doesn’t cut it. The second mortgage many families face in childcare bills will not be reduced by this Budget.

EDUCATION

Last week, thousands of 3rd level students took to the streets to demand investment and to reject a student loans system. 

They were not marching for themselves but for the future of education for all.

They must be the wrong sort of people because their demands are gone unheeded in this Budget .….

You speak about giving families a break but for tens of thousands of families you had it in your power to remove a huge burden by beginning the process of abolishing student fees.

You chose not to.

This Budget is about letting our Education system carry on as usual. The issues of modernisation and funding are ignored.

Tá tuilleadh infheistíocht ag teastáil go géar chun rannganna níos lú a sheachadadh, agus le haghaidh níos mó muinteoirí agus síceolaithe oideachais a earcú. Ach, bheartaigh an rialtas seo neamhairde a thabhairt dóibh.

Níl mórán curtha san áireamh mar chuid den bhuiseád seo fá choinne páistí scoile – idir bunscoileanna agus meánscoileanna.

The government had more important priorities as we know.

 Discrimination continues:

It’s not just Childcare and Education that our young families need and won’t get from this Budget.

This is a young country- yet it is the young that gain less when taxes are cuts and lose most when short term policies are adopted. 

This is not a budget for the young of this country- for those whose education is dependent on parents being able to afford student fees that should be lowered. 

Nor is it a Budget for young families trying to save for a home or simply to pay the rent. 

Their right to Housing has been relegated below tax cuts.

Even more directly the Budget carries on with very direct discrimination against young jobseekers. They are considered less deserving of help from the State than their older siblings. 

Young civil servants, young teachers, young nurses, young Gardaí have to wait for pay equality. 

It could be different- this could be a Budget for a young country….

This should be the Budget, and would have been if Sinn Fein were in government, 

where pay equality was begun for our young civil servants and teachers

,where young jobseekers got equal treatment as is their right, 

where real measures to make it possible for a working family to buy a home were put in place, 

but this government is not on the side of young people.

Discrimination isn’t limited to young people. The shameless cuts to the pensions band and rates in 2012 that left so many people, mainly women, with lesser pensions hasn’t been addressed. 

These 35,000 people are to just get on with life receiving less than others because they may have left work for periods to raise children. But that wasn’t a priority in this Budget.

I welcome the increase in the State pension but the deeper issues of inequality in the pension system have been left unresolved.

And there is absolutely no reason families depending on social welfare should be forced to wait until March for a little relief.

We would have given all working age recipients €260 for 2018.

We would have given people with disabilities an increase of €6 as an initial recognition of the additional cost of disability or €312 for 2018.

Your social welfare accepts that for a quarter of the year these recipients will be worse off in real terms.

A less equal Ireland is what this Budget will deliver for our young people and for those women who have fallen into one of the worst traps of the austerity programmes.

An Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht

Tá feall á dhéanamh ag an rialtas ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus ar an Gaeilge féin. 

Tá an Ghaeilge i mbaol an bháis mar theanga pobail laistigh de deich mbliana. Bíonn an teanga féin ag sleamhnú chun na cille. Agus tá aithris á dhéanamh agaibh ar bhur bhfaillí i leith na Gaeilge sa bhuiséad seo.

Ach níl tugtha ag an rialtas dúinn ach cur i gcéill. Maíonn an Aire Stáit Joe McHugh go bhfuil an Ghaeilge “ag dul ó neart go neart”. 

Léirigh figiúirí an daonáirimh dúinn gur a mhalairt atá an scéal - bhí titim 23.6% de chainteoirí laethúla i nGaeltacht Maigh Eo, titim 18% de chainteoirí laethúla i gCiarraí agus titim 15.8% de chainteoirí laethúla i nDún na nGall, mo chontae féin.

Sin titim 11% de chainteoirí laethúla sna ceantair Gaeltachta ar an meán agus titim fosta ar líon na gcainteoirí Gaeilge ar fud an stáit. 

Agus ní nach ionadh é - ó 2008 go 2014 tháinig laghdú 89% ar bhuiséad na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus na nOileán.

Tá sibh ag teipeadh go holc ar an Straitéis 20 Bliana agus drogall ar an rialtas plean gníomhaíochta a fhoilsiú lena cuspóirí a leagan amach go sonrach.

Tá todhchaí an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht ag braith go mór anois ar dhá bheartais – sin é an Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta agus an Pleanáil Teanga. Ach níltear ag tabhairt maoiniú cuí ina dtaobh. 

Níl raibh ach milliúin curtha ar fáil do Pholasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta cé go bhfuil níos mó airgid de dhíth leis na cuspóirí ar fad a chur i gcríoch – 

ar nós cúrsaí tríú leibhéal nua a chur i bhfeidhm, múinteoirí agus cigirí breise a earcú, maoiniú breise do scoileanna agus a leithéid. 

Maítear go bhfuil pleanáil teanga mar ‘last chance saloon’ ag lucht na Gaeltachta leis an Ghaeilge a shlánú. 

In ainneoin é seo, fuair muintir na Gaeltachta buile trom nuair a dúradh leo nach mbeadh dóthain airgead ar fáil leis na plean teanga a chur i bhfeidhm mar a leag siad amach. 

Le breis is dhá bhliain anuas bhí eagrais agus daoine áitiúla ag treabhadh le chéile leis na pleananna seo a dhearadh. 

Anois is gá dóibh athbhreithniú a dhéanamh orthu uilligh. 

Ní ‘tús láidir’ mar a d’fhógair an tAire Stáit Joe McHugh ag an am, ach masla don phobail Ghaeltachta.

Mhol Sinn Féin €5 milliúin a thabhairt don phlean infheistíocht sa Ghaeilge agus sa Ghaeltacht atá curtha le chéile ag Conradh na Gaeilge. 

Tá €5 milliún á thabhairt againn do chiste reatha Údarás na Gaeilge agus €5 mhilliúin don chiste caipitil. 

Tá €4 milliúin á thabhairt againn don phleanáil teanga

.

Tá an t-airgead seo atá luaite sa bhuiséad againn anuas ar chaiteachas an rialtais. Tá €2 milliúin sa bhreis á thabhairt againn leis an Pholasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta a mhaoiniú i gceart , 

agus tá €1.3 milliúin á thabhairt againn le tús a chur ar ionad traenála lán Ghaeilge a bhunú do hábhar mhúinteoirí. Agus molann muid suas le trí mhilliúin a chur ar fáil le haghaidh cultúrlann a bhunú ar Shráid an Mhúraigh.

Ní mór don rialtas a bheith ionraic faoi stad na teanga de. Is gá dúinn díriú isteach ar an Ghaeltacht agus an Ghaeilge anois, agus infheistíocht cuí a dhéanamh anois ionas go mbeidh sí ag an gcéad ghlúin eile.  

TAX MEASURES:

You have announced a range of other tax measures today- some I welcome and others I don’t.

 I wish to welcome the proposal, in line with my party’s view, that Commercial Stamp Duty is to be increased. 

Commercial lending and overheating played a huge part in the banking collapse. It is important that we monitor it and take action to cool it.

I support the increase in excise on tobacco- not because it raises money but because I believe that increasing the price will mean less of our people will die from cancer. 

There is no evidence that it will raise any money- in fact the opposite is just as likely. 

Ask the Revenue Commissioners- you know this Minister yet you have put a figure beside this increase because you have to cover other commitments. 

That is deeply dishonest- it’s trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes and it means that the little bits of extra money promised for our services are not all going to be met.

Help to Buy ? 

Minister, today you maintain the help to buy scheme- a scheme that has cost the Irish taxpayer €40m and has contributed in no small way to seeing house prices increase by €50 every day across the State.

It is a scheme that directly transfers money from taxpayer’s pockets into the pocket of developers while pricing ordinary families out of the market.

 Let me repeat once again, the housing crisis is a supply side problem. Stoking up demand only makes the situation worse by inevitably leading to house price increases.

The Minister should do the right thing and abolish this scheme immediately.

Let’s not forget that it was Fianna Fáil who originally proposed their own version of this ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ and the scheme wouldn’t be in place only for Fianna Fáil’s facilitation of its passing through the Oireachtas. 

This shows the contamination of Fine Gael by Fianna Fáil in the new government arrangement.

But thankfully you rejected Barry Cowen’s demand for a €240m tax cut for developers so the contamination is clearly not yet complete.

Most people who access this scheme don’t even need it to secure a deposit – it is simply money that goes on to the price of a house.

No family benefits- only the developers. I, for one, think they have been bailed out enough times already. 

Hospitality VAT RAte

Retaining the 9% rate for hotels that are full and are charging higher and higher prices while not respecting their workers’ rights is political cowardice.

I accept that not all hotels are full or taking advantage of demand to hike up prices but the overall trend in that sector is one that no longer justifies a tax break.

I am speaking specifically about Hotels- many in Dublin owned by international investors.

These international investors are soaking up most of a €190m tax break, that could be money working towards emergency housing, to paying teachers or nurses and building our infrastructure. 

The phasing out of mortgage interest relief will hit many struggling families- 419,000 people will be worse off. 

This could cost families who had to buy at the peak of the crisis hundreds of euro.

The picture of this Budget becomes clearer…all the talk of new politics is out the window.

It’s the same old story.

The experts warn us that cutting taxes risks overheating and jeopardises our tax bases.

History tells us that outdated or failed tax breaks must be ended.

But today, we have tax cuts on the double and failed, costly schemes like Help to Buy are left virtually untouched.

Nothing has changed- there will not be different results in healthcare for our citizens from a Budget that does what the establishment parties have always done- 

throw it all away, protect the powerful lobbies and expect our hospitals and schools to run on the crumbs.

This is a Budget drawn up by political Insiders to suit them and their friends- it is not a Budget for Ireland in the year 2017.

The world in 2017 is a different place.

Tá an domhain ag athrú. Níl an dara suí sa bhuaile againn ach a aithint go bhfuil an comhthéacs domhanda uilig ag athrú chun donais.

Chan amháin sin, agus cé gurbh fhearr leis an rialtas a ligeán oraibh féin go bhfuil achan uile ní i gceart de réir cosúlachta, ach tá fadhbanna tromchúiseacha ó thaobh geilleagar na tíre fós le sárú agus dul i ngleic leo.

The global context is changing and not in a good way.

Our national debt remains one of the highest in the world when taken as a percentage of GNI star which strips out distortions unique to our economy. 

Low interest rates, quantitative easing and low oil prices and other favourable winds will not always be blowing in our favour. 

On the other hand, the impact of Brexit which the ESRI and others fear may be underestimated in the Minister’s projections is a storm that is not going to miss us.

On a whole range of other issues you have done nothing or done the bare minimum.

  • CORPORATION TAX- 

The more the government insist everything is fine with our Corporation tax system the more the problems stick out.

Everything is not fine. It is not unpatriotic to say that.

I welcome the move to cap the intellectual property that can be written off against profits at 80%. I am amazed you can be precise at who much this will raise.

Even here though I am disappointed but not surprised to see that yet again you have built in a nice get out clause into this year’s budget... 

The cap in relation to the write off of Intellectual property will not apply to the companies that have onshored hundreds of billions of Intellectual property in the State over the past number of years. 

In a year we have seen,  annual capital allowances claims for intangible assets have increased from €2.7 billion to €28.9 billion, due to this onshoring of Intellectual Property by multinational companies. 

This also corresponds with the 2015 GDP revision which related in part to that onshoring of Intellectual Property and an increase in the cap for capital allowances from 80% to 100% by the previous Minister for Finance.  

In other words, you are leaving this door firmly open by not apply this cap to Intellectual Property which has been onshored here over recent years.   

There is a distinct possibility with international tax developments that the tax base could shift here before we get to tax any of these large multinationals profits. 

You are taking the easy option- making a change knowing well that the tax leakage already in process will not be stopped. 

The big movement of IP onshore in recent years will go untaxed 

The winds are changing internationally and it is time to start building a real industrial policy, not one based on unsustainable loopholes.  

The 12.5% Corporation Tax rate is not in question. Scaremongering does not add to the debate,

This sovereign State maintains the right to set its own tax rate. Nobody has a better understanding of the importance of economic sovereignty than Sinn Féin.

There are however huge challenges coming down the road and the government has shown again why it is not up for the challenge- they still have their head in the sand.

I have major concerns that your government's corporate tax policy is built on sand. 

We have seen corporation tax receipts increase from €3.9 billion in 2012, to €4.6 billion in 2014, to a projected outturn of €7.965 billion in 2017. 

What makes this tax head especially risky is the concentration of receipts among large multinationals. 

with only 10 payers accounting for 37% of this revenue in 2016. 

I shudder to think of the risk of this exposure given international tax policy developments. 

 US Tax proposals and Digital Tax

We are facing a double whammy, in US corporate tax reform and movement due from either the OECD or Europe regarding the taxation of digital profits. 

US corporate tax proposals mooted include the introduction of a foreign minimum tax requirement in tandem with the proposed reduction in the US corporate tax rate to 20%

This could massively erode the advantage which many US companies currently avail of.

Meanwhile, the EU digital tax proposal now has the backing of 10 European countries and could be brought in through enhanced co-operation next year meaning it can go ahead without us but still affect us sharply.

Whichever measures are enacted by the OECD or EU, they would no doubt further erode our ability to cut our cloth to suit our needs.

We could be facing a whole different economic reality in this State if our tax advantage is taken away over the coming years. 

I have no doubt that we are increasingly isolated in these matters. We are not isolated because of the 12.5% rate which my party and the vast majority here support.

We are isolated because we have allowed companies resident here minimise their tax almost to the point of zero.

We, as a State, are compounding our past mistakes. Look at the Apple case- it has become an embarrassment- one of our own making.

Instead of facing up to the new reality and dealing with the issues facing the State have doubled down. 

We are trying to convince the EU that there was no sweetheart deal which allowed a company in Cork without any physical infrastructure or staff, only existing on paper to siphon €104bn of profit which were generated in Cork over ten years from Cork to somewhere in outter space. 

How could anybody believe this?

But the government is spending taxpayer’s money- €3.6m to date on souped up lawyers to defend this fictional company 

We are now being brought to Court a second time for not collecting the €13bn plus interest that the Irish people are owed. It is ours- it is not being collected for any country except this one.

And we wonder why the EU are always on about our corporation tax regime?

The Apple case has been handled disastrously by a government not competent enough to collect some money never mind defend Irish interests in complex and, let’s face it, hostile conditions.

The perception of Ireland as not playing fair on tax will only be bolstered by this government’s strategy. 

The government need to get their act together and collect what is due. They are compounding the damage already done.

Mar sin, ní mór dúinn cruth a chur ar ár dteach féin, ár gcúrsaí a chur in ord, agus clú na tíre a chosaint go docht. Muna ndéantar é seo, tá baol ann go ndéanfar níos mó dámaiste agus scríosta dár gclú ar bhonn idirnáisiúnta.

We must get our house in order. We cannot defend our reputation when we are so open to such obvious attacks.

There is a pattern here. 

The government insists everything is fine then we protest we can’t do anything causing anger among our neighbours- then eventually we act- like we did on stateless companies and the Double Irish.

And even then as in the case of the Double Irish and Stateless companies we do the minimum and we make sure that the companies have years to prepare and find new ways of avoiding paying a fair share.

Last week we learned of the R and D credit issues.

We need action in relation to the Research and Development tax credit in Budget 2018. Where is it?

The Research and Development tax credit’s purpose is to stimulate R&D activity across the State, which is welcome. 

-

65% of its cost is attributable to 10 companies,- that is €460 million foregone to 10 huge companies. 

The cost of the credit is increasing dramatically while the number of companies claiming it is falling.

Less and less normal indigenous companies are using this credit as it is soaked up by billion dollar multinationals.

A Report published by the government on Budget day last year signalled these issues but nothing was done. It proposed action be taken.

It is no wonder the Comptroller and Auditor General, not me, not anyone who comes from outside the so-called centre of Irish politics, disclosed that 13 of the top companies in the State pay less than 1% tax.

So Minister everything is not fine and dandy with our Corporation tax system.

We have many battles coming up- 

I see no evidence your government has a strategy to defend Ireland’s interests except to stick your head in the sand.

In every Budget speech I have been privileged enough to be here representing my party the Minister has referenced our 12.5% rate. 

I have no idea why- it has never changed. It is not the issue at stake, it is regime and reputation where we need to do work. 

Less time talking about red herrings and more time dealing with some of the issues I have raised today would be a better use of the Minister’s time.

Start at home- clamp down on the abuses, make the rate a meaningful one, close the loopholes.

These issues are not going away. Very large, very profitable companies are paying very little tax relative to what that should be. Workers, families, and all of us who use our public services pick up that tab.

VULTURES/FUNDS:

Last year, following intense pressure on you, a dividend withholding tax on certain non-resident investors – or “Vultures” as they are aptly known- in funds was introduced. 

This was to deal with the fact that funds had been paying 0% tax on gains or profits related to Irish property assets. 

However, in tandem with this to soften the blow for the funds, your government, facilitated by Fianna Fáil, introduced a further tax break for property investment funds, whereby they would not be liable to a Dividend Withholding Tax, when the dividend related to the sale of Irish property assets which were sold after a minimum of five years from the date of acquisition.   

Predictably, the Department of Finance was warned last year that a five-year capital gains tax exemption for certain property funds could clog up the housing market by encouraging the funds to hoard property rather than sell it.

In terms of the bulk of NAMA’s land sales with residential potential, 75% were sold between 2015, 2016 and 2017.  

There is now a clear incentive not to sell this land and it is likely that these funds won’t sell until 2020, 2021 and 2022 as the funds are counting down the clock on the 5 year DWT exemption so that they can get out of dodge tax free. 

Fianna Fail have tried to confuse the older 7 year exemption with the current hoarding by investment funds.  We welcome the proposed change but it is not the silver bullet.

Fianna Fáil completely miss the point that these funds were not liable to CGT anyway and that only 20% of NAMA’s sales occurred during the period covered by that exemption.

Furthermore, It will also greatly benefit residential property investors both individuals and companies, who purchased property between 2012 and 2014, at rock bottom prices and if the 7 CGT exemption is expedited to allow them to realise their profits tax free.  

Many rich buyers bought at rock bottom in 2012 and will now offload with a gigantic profit... 

Any investor looking at a million euro profit from Irish property will effectively be getting a tax break of €330,000. 

It should only be on land zoned for residential development.  It was a bad policy and any change now will result in speculators netting millions in tax free profits.

The 5 year exemption introduced last year is the real pressing issue, It is reprehensible that this tax break is still in place and I will be pushing for it to be abolished in the Finance Bill. 

Tá géar-ghá ann le deireadh a chur leis an bhuntáiste cánach seo atá á úsáid ag creach-chistí. 

Meastar gur luach €13.6 billiún de réadmhaoin Éireannach le cistí cáineifeachtúil sa lá atá inniú ann. Caillfear alán airgid don státchiste mar thorradh ar an chinneadh chun íos-cháin a ghearradh ar a mbrabúis.

The government need to immediately end this tax break for vulture funds.

Furthermore, as it is estimated that tax efficient fund structures, to use an euphemism, now own €13.6 billion of Irish property. 

Applying minimal tax on their profits and no tax on gains, they make on the vast bulk of this €13.6 billion of Irish property will result in a gigantic loss to the Exchequer.

With non-investors in REITS sitting on profits of €567 million in 2015 and 2016, while only being subject to tax 2% in 2015 and 3% in 2016. 

This must end…. These funds are literally buying up our country.

How can families compete with tax free international funds when trying to buy a house?

That is what your tax policy has led to and you have outlined no plans to change it. That is what your tax policy has led to and you have outlined no plans to change it.  

42% of new homes sold in Dublin this year have been sold to non-household buyers, which is predominately vulture funds.... 

Compare this to 25% of new homes sold in Dublin so far this year being bought by First Time Buyers... 

It's absolutely damning and urgent action is required by your government to stop vulture funds taking over our property market to the detriment of ordinary citizens. 

The Finance Bill must bring in wholesale changes in these areas.

 Banks:

Were you to have just arrived from abraod and listened to the Minister you might think that we have a perfectly functioning and accountable banking system- a mhalairt de scéal atá ann.

If you are a tracker mortgage scandal victim especially one of the 100 or so families that had their home taken from them by the theft of the banks you might disagree.

The Minister has signalled no intention to reverse the scandalous Labour/ Fine Gael decision to exempt these banks from Corporation Tax for the next 20 years.

Nor has he any intention of increasing the bank levy. The level will stay at €150m a year. Bank of Ireland made a billion euro profit last year. AIB made over €800m in the first 6 months of this year alone.

Tax free.

That’s a good deal. Where do workers sign up for that deal Minsiter?

When later on today Ministers tell us about their Departments’ Budget and how they would have loved to do more but couldn’t- I wonder will they even think about the deal the banks have got.

Of course, we have a government that is on the banks’ side- always has been, always will be.

Bíonn an rialtas ag sodar i ndiaidh na n-uasal ach, mar a deir an seanfhocal, aithníonn ciarnóg amháin, ciarnóg eile.

The SF alternative: 

There was of course another way on all these issues, another direction that could have been taken.

Sinn Féin proposed a sustainable way of doing things, a fair way.

Not all of our proposal would be universally popular. That’s ok- that is the price of political leadership- something in very short supply in the contributions so far today.

Yes, we would ask those who can pay more to do so. Yes we would increase the tax take up to closer to the norms in progressive countries. 

We put it very bluntly- there is no scope for net tax cuts. No serious economic group or individual has said that now is to the time to cut taxes…yet that has been the decision taken today. 

We would put the resources available and put them where they are needed- health, housing, childcare..things that make real difference to the lives of families and workers.

Comprehensive, realistic proposal backed by honest revenue raising measures.

And average workers are supposed to be happy to have €1.50 in their pockets? that’s  making a mockery of the concept of fairness.

You were presented with a radical, necessary alternative but you have stuck to the old ways- the way we do things in this country.

The banks, the tax avoidance industry and the vultures got the Budget they wanted. They have government that works for them.

Is neamhionadh go rachadh an buiseád seo lena leasa. Is suaill a thairbhe do gnáthoibrithe agus do theaghlaigh. 

Fianna Fáil:

Fianna Fail can go along with this chaos, with this unfairness. 

The Fianna Fáil approach of calling for everything for everybody sums up all that is worst in Irish politics….. they have been extremely cynical in the run-up to this Budget. 

The question for all of us here today is do we support this Budget? 

That is a question of judgment. Last year Fianna Fáil supported the Budget- they judged it would help we have to presume- it didn’t. 

What will they do this year? 

The question arises- what are Fianna Fail for? Have they an original thought in their heads?

Health Crisis? No problem say Fianna Fail- farm it out to the private sector.

Housing Crisis? No problem- give the developers a €240m tax break.  Old habits are hard to break.

Their solution to our capital deficit is to use Public Private Partnerships despite the complete lack of cost-benefit analysis of such schemes and Eurostat’s ever tightening interpretation removing any of the possible benefits of those schemes from- even an accounting point of view.

By supporting this Budget Fianna Fáil are nothing but the life support system for a discredited right wing government intent on throwing away all the hard work of Irish workers.

Rural/Agriculture:

Our rural economy in particular it seems is to be left fend for itself as Brexit approaches.

This not just an issue for border communities- the entire rural community needs a plan.

The Rural Action plan was supposed to carry out the research on this but nothing has happened.

In the meantime, the rural economy is to be kept on a drip-  public transport outside of the cities is not worthy of investment, the saga about connecting all of our island to quality broadband in the year 2017 carries on.

Flood defences are to be built piece by piece when there is a bit spare- there is no urgency from government to sort out the needs of Rural Ireland.

Rural Ireland is to stagger on for another while. (AGRI)

CONCLUSION:

We have had six Fine Gael Budgets in a row. Crises in health and housing are the inevitable result- it is their policy. And they are not for turning.

We are spending €3.6m appealing the Apple judgment. 

€3.6m of taxpayers’ money spent on an appeal against the Irish people receiving €13 billion in tax owed to them- you couldn’t make it up. .

Why? Because the government is on Apple’s side.

The vultures have been protected- the moves to clamp down on their speculation have been avoided. 

First Time buyers in Dublin and elsewhere will, be left on their own to compete with tax free billion dollar funds to buy a house. The government is not on their side after all- it is on the vultures’ 

That’s what this Budget boils down to. We could be taking huge step today in tackling the crises in health and housing but that is not the choice of the government or Fianna Fáil. They are not on the side of ordinary people- they have their own to look after.

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