Coalition sells budget in bid to buy re-election
Coalition sells budget in bid to buy re-election


A desperate pre-election giveaway budget may have backfired for the Fine Gael/Labour government in Dublin as research shows that that their bid to buy off the relatively wealthy has come at the expense of the rest of society, particularly those worst off.

There were angry scenes in parliament as the Minister for Finance Micheal Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin both abandonded the Dail chamber after delivering their speeches.

Only four government TDs were present to hear the formal responses of the opposition. It later emerged the rest of them, including government Ministers, were put to spinning the ‘good news’ -- even though the details had already been fully leaked to the media well ahead of the official announcement.

A highly orchestrated media campaign was further exposed when Ministers Noonan and Howlin both refused to take part in a radio phone-in on the budget’s implications without prior knowledge of the questions.

In the speech that Noonan missed, Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty told the Taoiseach that inequality was his “badge of honour”-

He excoriated the government’s record, particularly on dealing with the housing and homelessness crisis, for which the government astonishingly provided no substantive measure.

Last weekend, a measure to stop landlords pushing rents rapidly higher amid the housing shortage was struck from the budget announcement as being too damaging to Fine Gael’s wealthy support base.

Mr Doherty later pointed to independent research which confirmed that the lowest 20% of the population of the 26 Counties came out worst of any group in the Budget.

“Yet, we are told everybody was a winner,” Mr Doherty said. “The real winners were the highest earners who in real and relative terms will now be wealthier than the rest of society than they were the day before budget day.

“That is the true nature of Budget 2016 and it is no accident.

“It is by design and by policy that the more you have, the more you get under Fine Gael and Labour. They have shown themselves incapable of bringing about a fair recovery.”

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny this week backed away from a suggestion that he run to the electorate to take advantage of the giveaway budget, the highest increase in public expenditure since the 2008 economic crisis.

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, set up to prevent government economic mismanagement following the crash, issued a warning that after years of punishing austerity budgets, overall spending levels were now dangerously high.

The budget blowout had “undermined the government’s multi-year expenditure ceiling and created questions about the entire budgetary process,” said the head of the council, Prof John McHale.

Aengus O Snodaigh, Sinn Fein TD spokesperson for Social Protection said the government had “again chosen the path of an unfair recovery; a recovery for the wealthiest in society.

“Our most vulnerable and deprived citizens have been left behind in a budget that has given crumbs to everyone in the audience except our young people, children in one parent families and our poorest working families.”

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