Crumbs for poor in Budget giveaway

The 26-County Budget 2007 presented yesterday by Minister for Finance Brian Cowen has been attacked for failing to tackle the “real issues facing Irish society”.

Despite enjoying burgeoning tax receipts, running at around ten billion Euros per month, Cowen faild to tackle inequality and Ireland’s notoriously high poverty rates.

The headline lowering of the top rate of tax -- from 42% to 41% -- was a key demand of the junion partners in Dublin’s coalition government, the Progressive Democrats.

And another key plank of a vote-catching budget -- an attempt to reduce sky-rocketing cost of housing for first-time house buyers -- was immediately nullified by an interest rate increase announced by the European Central Bank today.

Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain welcomed measures for those on low incomes but said Mr Cowen “could have done much much more if he had chosen to.

“He had the opportunity and the resources to lift many citizens out of poverty but stopped far short of what was possible and what was required.

“The biggest problem with today’s Budget is that once again this Government has shown that they have absolutely no strategy to address the core needs of ordinary people whether it is in health, education or housing,” he said.

Labour’s finance spokeswoman, Joan Burton, said that serious injustices had been inflicted on those who were being forced to pay the higher tax rate, plus social insurance on very modest overtime payments or on bonuses or wage increases.

“This is a typical Fianna Fail/PD Budget, a Budget for the wealthy few, not the hardworking many.

“We have headline reductions in taxation which will be welcomed by hard-pressed families, but the secret of the tax code in Ireland remains the fact that tax is often for the little people,” she said.

Her party leader, Pat Rabbitte said “This Budget is not addressing the real issues facing Irish society. Pre-election giveaways will not make it easier for people to get home from work this evening.”

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said that for all the revenue at his disposal, Mr Cowen had shown no real awareness of the challenges facing Ireland from climate change and peak global oil production.

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