DONEGAL Deputy Pearse Doherty has reacted angrily to budget cuts and taxes.
Our video shows his response on RTE.. Click to play.
Below is his entire speech in the Dail.
“Minister, last February a huge majority of the electorate voted for change. They voted for an end to the failed policies and politics of Fianna Fail and the Green Party.
They voted for a new approach to the economy, to unemployment, to the banks, to public services, and to political reform. They voted for an end to political cronyism.
The people wanted change. They wanted fairness and equality. And most of all they wanted hope that tomorrow was going to be better than yesterday.
In the nine months since Fine Gael and Labour took office you have broken promise after promise. You have slowly but steadily dashed the hopes of those people who put their faith in you.
Across the state today, despite the litany of broken promises people were still holding out for good news. They were still yearning for hope that your budget announcements this week will make tomorrow better than yesterday.
I have no desire to come here today and criticise. But having listened carefully to your colleague Brendan Howlin yesterday and your speech today I am left with no other option.
People want solutions. They do not want shouting from the sidelines. They want a plan and a few short weeks ago my party submitted to your department our pre-budget submission.
It was a document full of choices, a document which set out a route to recovery. You took some of our advice – you backed down on some cuts and you went after the public health budget subsidising private healthcare. But you did not go far enough.
I believe history will judge this Government badly. I believe you have made all the wrong choices. Never has a Government promised so much and delivered so little.
After this budget, you can’t stand up in this house and claim it’s all Fianna Fail’s fault. You can’t wring your hands and say there was nothing else you could do.
This is your budget. These are your choices.
Yes Fianna Fail caused this mess, but today you’ve made it worse.
People are watching your budget speech today and they will be numbed as they add up the total loss of income from your stealth charges and spending cuts.
They have had two days of bad news – cuts and taxes mounted on top of each other, with no regard as to how they are meant to pay for any of it.
Ordinary families are crying out for fairness. Indeed Minister you have told us time and time again that this budget would be fair.
In his state broadcast An Taoiseach told us that we didn’t cause the crisis. Yet clearly you are making us pay for it.
Is this the kind of fairness that you had in mind Minister? A fairness that gives Anglo Irish Bank €3.1bn of taxpayers money every year while almost half a million people are crying out for investment in jobs.
A fairness that allows Enda Kenny to earn €200,000 per year, Eamonn Gilmore €184,000 per year, and you Minister €169,000 per year while ordinary working families are struggling to make ends meet?
Of course you are not going after high earners.
Last year Minister, you were in receipt of a ministerial pension on top of your Dáil salary. The Taoiseach was in receipt of a ministerial pension.
If Sinn Fein had not put these payments on the agenda, sitting TDs would still be in receipt of them. You don’t go after high earners, because you are high earners.
Times are tough, but not for your Government.
What about those who caused the crisis Minister, the bankers, the developers, and the politicians who were there at the time of the crash? Where is the fairness in your budget for them?
Twenty two of the top fifty Anglo Irish Bank executives are still in place, nineteen earning over €175,000 per year. Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen still in receipt of pensions of €147,000 per year.
And while you are increasing taxes on ordinary families, Ministers are still eligible to claim an un-vouched tax write down of up to €3500 for having their laundry done while staying in Dublin hotels.
Minister if this is your idea of fairness then it is a very skewed sense of fairness indeed.
What was fair about the cuts yesterday? They were of the most vicious nature. You went after children, the disabled, lone parents, widows, carers. These were your five target groups.
You spun a line about protecting social welfare payments – about not cutting the basic unemployment rate.
All the while your Government was cutting the extra child benefit rates, multiple birth grants, abolishing disability benefits for the under 18s and slashing it almost in half for young people, attacking lone parents on multiple fronts, going after widow and widowers pensions, cutting the back to education allowance, slashing fuel allowance, and going after carers.
This is just a small element of what you did in just one department. And you deceived the Irish people in your cuts savings. You claimed, for example, that social welfare cuts were €475 million. But that is just for 2012.
In a full year social welfare is cut by €811 million.
Health is cut by a total of €797 million.
Education by €316 million.
These were the frontline services that you said you would protect.
The biggest cut yesterday was in people’s expectations. There is no hope offered in this budget to the growing numbers of working poor, to the struggling middle income families, to the most vulnerable in society.
There is no vision for business, no economic thinking that adds up. This is not what people signed up for – it is not what they wanted when they voted for change.
Today, people struggling already, are being told they will have to pay more stealth taxes, a household charge, higher VAT and motor taxes, fuel and excise costs, rural dwellers forced to pay septic tank charges and water charges and property taxes are on the way for all.
But they are also being told that none of these taxes will go towards public services. Health, education, welfare, will all suffer. You are increasing taxes to continue with a failed banking policy.
Yesterday you cut €2.2 billion from public spending.
Next year, our debt servicing will increase by €2.6 billion.
Be honest with the people Minister, tell them where their money is going. You should also be honest and explain that all your cuts and taxes will not work.
The Exchequer deficit remains large because instead of directing our resources into creating jobs and growing the economy, you’ve spent nearly all we have on bailing out the banks and you plan to continue along that road.
Since Fine Gael and Labour took office in March this Government has pumped a staggering €20.7bn, of our money to the banks, including €3.1bn to Anglo Irish Bank. You will pay this €3.1 billion again next March.
The reckless economic policies pursued by Fianna Fail during the boom created the economic crisis. Years of austerity and bank bailouts pursued by Fianna Fail deepened the crisis.
Now the continuation of these same failed policies by Fine Gael and Labour will only serve to make matters worse.
Across the country people will have watched your speech today Minister and they will be growing increasingly despondent. They will be feeling angry, hurt and badly let down.
I want to appeal directly to every person out there who wants change, who voted for change last February.
To every one of you who feel that we deserve better.
I want every person who is contemplating emigration, or who is at their lowest, or who feels that there is no light at the end of this tunnel to know that real change is still possible.
There are people in this state who have a vision for a better fairer Ireland and who, with your help, can make this a better country.
There are better choices. There are alternative roads, despite the fact that the Labour Party and Fine Gael have decided not to take them. Sinn Fein has championed the alternative.
Sinn Fein has argued that the priority in this budget should have been investment in jobs. We argued against spending cuts and pointed out that the tax system had to be overhauled and the wealthy had to pay more.
Minister, no wealthy person ever died from having to pay more taxes.
But the cuts you inflicted on our health service and social welfare payments yesterday will mean the difference between life and death for people. 5,000 people die prematurely every year in Ireland because of inequality in areas like health. Up to 2,000 people die each winter due to the cold.
How many more people will die from fuel poverty or inadequate access to health care following your cuts?
As if the cuts weren’t bad enough, today you heaped more pain on people with your stealth taxes – the VAT rise, the carbon tax, the household charge.
Minister, undoubtedly, Ireland needs to stabilise its finances. We need to return to the bond markets at the end of next year and Sinn Fein is of the opinion that the sooner the better we are out of this deal which has impeded so much on our sovereignty.
We differ over the best and fastest route to get there. I am firmly of the view that continuing with Fianna Fail’s failed banking policy will not help our chances of recovery.
I am joined in this view by economists of the left, centre and right. In fact almost everybody bar Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail and the ECB believes it is unjustifiable to fully repay unguaranteed bank bondholders and the Anglo Promissory notes.
This Government has already fully recapitalised the banks, while the rest of Europe waits to see if the EFSF or ECB will pick up the tab for their banks. Bailing out banks and bondholders while asking the sick, the elderly and children to pick up the tab is shameful.
Leaving aside the banking crisis, we have a structural deficit that must be reduced. In our pre-budget submission, we set out a package of measures that would close the deficit starting with €3.5 billion in new measures in 2012.
This would bring the deficit to 8.3%, when implemented along with our €7 billion stimulus package. We propose this stimulus is paid for from the remaining NPRF funds and partial investment from the EIB.
This would create 60,000 jobs and save up to 100,000.
Our approach to economic recovery is far more comprehensive than the Government’s deficit focus strategy.
The Government believes it can cut its way out of recession. This has been tried by Fianna Fail and it has failed.
€20.6 billion of flat taxes and cuts later, have they learned nothing? If cuts and flat taxes worked, the deficit would have closed by now.
The fact that this budget is predicated on a set of growth figures for next year which have already been reviewed downwards by observers means that this budgetary adjustment won’t have its desired effect either.
You cannot cut your way out of recession Minister, how many more times do you need this lesson.
Our measures are fair, they are non-deflationary and they are the most likely to work.
The domestic economy is on its knees. People’s spending power has been demolished and today you’ve added to the mess by cutting it more.
Less money in people’s pockets is less money in tills.
Less money in tills is less jobs.
It’s a vicious cycle. That is why we proposed measures such as the wealth tax, such as the third rate of income tax on income earned over €100,000, and abolishing the USC.
The Government has set itself numerical targets which cannot be reached because they do not factor in the effects bad policy have on economic activity.
I want to deal with some of these bad policy measures now.
Jobs and growth
I don’t know if I’m the only person in the state to remember the Five Point Plan. Do you remember the five point plan Minister? Let me refresh your memory.
Point 1 – a €7 billion stimulus package to create 100,000 jobs. Labour had a similar plan.
Today there are 444,000 people on the live register. That is 15,000 more than when you took office. We can’t count all the people who have emigrated, or the people who aren’t eligible for welfare assistance, such as the self-employed for whom you provide no safety net.
Minister, you seem to think emigration is some kind of unemployment safety valve. 54,000 people have emigrated since you took office.
I want to tell you what emigration really is. Emigration is empty chairs at the dinner table this Christmas.
Emigration is grandparents never meeting their grandchildren.
Emigration is families and communities being devastated.
Minister, have you walked through any of our third level campuses lately? I can tell you, you would be hard pushed to find any students who see anything other than emigration in their futures.
Will you tell their parents why you are driving them out of the state? Why you’ve prioritised private bank bondholders over the futures of young Irish school children?
You talk a good talk on jobs in this Government. But strip away the rhetoric and there is nothing there. You might have got away with this in the first few weeks of Government but now it’s wearing thin Minister. Yesterday you cut the capital budget. You cut the Enterprise Ireland budget. You went after disposable income. Today you raise VAT. Fuel prices. You are actively cutting jobs.
The 2% hike in VAT will see more businesses put under strain from diminishing consumer spending and more of them will go to the wall. The vicious cycle began by Fianna Fail and the Greens of relying on indirect taxation will be continued under your watch.
Not only will this measure be tough for business and jobs, it will disproportionately affect lower earners, who pay more of their income on VAT. The €670 million you say this figure will bring is less than what the Sinn Fein proposed wealth tax which would bring in €800 million.
You talk about tough choices Minister. It’s not tough to go after a spending tax. Tough is going after wealth, it is going after the vested interests and the status quo. In France they have the luxury of their wealthy individuals appealing to the Government to tax them more, just to be patriotic.
In Ireland we have the wealthiest standing behind the Government and pointing at the poorest in society saying tax them more.
You can’t squeeze any more blood from this stone Minister.
The VAT rise is a mistake. You know this, it is the argument you made in opposition.
This is not to mention the impact this VAT rise will have on already struggling border towns.
Increasing VAT in the hope it will generate enough cash to write down the deficit is a nonsense.
By its nature, it will have diminishing returns as people spend less. VAT has collapsed this year.
Now you are attempting to run just to standstill.
I listened here to Michael McGrath attacking this VAT measure.
Let’s be clear.
The only difference between Fianna Fail’s VAT plans and the VAT measure today is 12 months.
Fianna Fail saw VAT as an easy option too. They also drove hard pressed retailers in border counties to the wall.
They pushed up the cost of living for ordinary people. They are no more interested in saving jobs than you Minister.
Education & Jobs
Your attacks on education yesterday will do little to help grow the economy. This state cannot come out of this crisis without the tools to do so. These tools include a well-trained, educated workforce.
By making education the preserve of the elite, an opportunity for those who can afford it, you are not ensuring a workforce for the future.
This is what you have done with your cuts to the capitation grants, cuts in funding for higher education bodies, increasing fees by €250, just this year, and abolishing maintenance grants for post grads.
You are pulling down the shutter on the futures of thousands of young men and women not lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family. In this day and age, in a first world country, I don’t know how you can stand over this.
The Government has been bleating on for months about its decision to keep tax rates and bands the same.
This is a mantra that’s meant to distract people while the Government is holding them upside down and shaking the spare coins out of their pockets with their VAT increases, their household charges, water charges and other stealth taxes.
Keeping rates and bands the same, means keeping them the same for everybody, for those on €20,000 and those on €200,000.
That’s nothing to be proud of.
We have proposed the abolition of the Universal Social Charge, to be replaced with the income levy, with the lower rate reduced to 1% and the health levy.
This would see everyone earning under €75,000 better off in their take home pay under our direct tax proposals than what you’ve done, or failed to do today. It would also see half a million low earners taken out of the tax net.
You have claimed today that people will come out of this budget with the same take home pay.
What you don’t say is that once people get home with their pay packets, you will whallop them with higher bills, charges, stealth taxes and a range of other measures designed to reduce their disposable income.
USC (Universal Social Charge)
Today you have tinkered around the edges of the USC.
You took everyone earning €10,000 out of the bracket.
There were 514,000 more people in the tax net as a result of the USC.
Your measure will leave 184,000 amount of people paying a regressive charge that is not only damaging their quality of life, but economic activity in terms of consumption.
To have lifted everyone out of the USC earning under €15,000 would have cost €120million. Taking everyone out from under the minimum wage would have cost approx. €170 million.
We would abolish it completely, but even this measure would have been fairer than what you do today.
We look at tax in a different way.
We go after wealth, tax breaks and loopholes. Reducing the pension ceiling and capping pension reliefs would bring in €550 million alone.
Halving mortgage interest for landlords would bring in €400 million.
The changes that we proposed to Capital Acquisitions Tax and Capital Gains Tax would bring in €360 million.
This is a strategy that increases the revenue stream without damaging the wider economy.
Flat rate taxes are regressive. The Labour party seems to have mixed up the definition of regressive and progressive since its election manifesto.
I’ll simplify it for you. Regressive means unfair and not as productive. If you look it up in the dictionary you’ll find it beside property taxes.
Minister, nowhere is your political choice to go after the socially and economically vulnerable more stark than in your decision to levy a flat rate regressive household charge.
A household charge is a stealth tax.
The way you have levied it will hit those struggling the hardest.
Regardless of income, regardless of property size, everyone will pay €100.
A family with three kids, a mortgage of €1,000 a month, mounting energy and food bills, will pay €100 per year.
A wealthy individual, living in a valuable home with no mortgage, will pay €100 per year.
How is this fair Minister?
Some of the Government TDs will vote for this today and say ‘sure it’s only €100’.
You have no idea what €100 means to somebody already on the breadline.
Add that €100 euro to the increased bills, to the increase in travel, to the cuts in their income.
And that’s just €100 this year.
Minister, what is more distressing is that you are levying this charge at people, many of whom will be in mortgage distress. These people took on huge mortgages, massive stamp duties and are in some cases, high interest rates just to own a home. You have done little or nothing for the 100,000 households in mortgage distress and today you tell them you expect them to pay another €100 household charge on top of their bills. It is not right and it is not fair.
Minister, you have lined up stealth taxes in this budget and I wonder what if any thought has been given to the effects of these taxes.
Take your motor tax hike. I know from my own county Donegal, that people are dependent on cars for transport. They need cars to get to work, to drop their kids to school, to take care of relatives, to get the weekly grocery shop. This is thanks to a legacy of bad transport planning by Governments like your own that ignored the west of Ireland. People need their cars and the roads they pay to use them on are not adequate. They are right to be angry about this tax. They know it will not be spent fixing these roads, which should be what a motor tax is for. The cost of keeping their cars rises all the time to cope with the maintenance costs of running a car on bad roads. Yet another tax that will have no positive impact for the people expected to pay it.
CAT & CGT
The changes to Capital Acquisitions Tax and Capital Gains Tax do not go far enough. Yesterday you attacked child benefit to save €70 million in a full year.
When I heard about this cut I was reminded that last year, Joan Burton stood up in this house and told Fianna Fail that their cut to child benefit was a reflection of how few women were in Government and how little political power women had.
Well Joan, in Government, could have gone to her own cabinet and explained that an increase in CGT to 40% would have raised €195 million and reducing the CAT thresholds by 25%, while increasing the rate to 35% would have raised €165 million. You have allowed CGT exemptions today!
These measures would have saved Joan the cut to child benefit and she could have rightly declared that she had wielded considerable political power.
You have failed to deal with the legacy of Fianna Fail property reliefs, the reliefs that drove the bubble today. You have extended a capital gains holiday for people who choose to once again speculate in the property market. You have cut stamp duty for non-residential property from 6% to 2% from midnight tonight.
Compare your attitude to property to your attitude yesterday to young, severely disabled people, who you told you valued half as much as the day before.
You are the same as Fianna Fail Minister, you will protect high earners who you fear will become insolvent, but you’ll go after the most vulnerable and tell them you have no choice. You are trying to create speculation in the property market, yet again! But you will not deal with upward only rent reviews which are destroying businesses and killing jobs.
Minister, there are 100,000 families in serious mortgage distress. Where is the fairness for them? Almost 70 families are falling into serious mortgage distress every single day.
While repossession rates have been low by comparison with other countries that will not last for ever. 1048 families have lost their homes in the last two years.
This is 1048 repossessions too many.
And without Government action this number will increase.
The Fine Gael Labour Programme for Government included clear promises on mortgage distress.
You promised to direct mortgage providers in receipt of State support to cut costs. Yet today mortgages are more costly than when you took office.
You promised to make greater use of Mortgage Interest Supplement to support families who cannot meet their mortgage payments.
Yet Minister Howlin announced yesterday a cut of €22.5million to this benefit and increased the personal contribution for struggling home owners by up to €572 per year.
Despite all the promises made during the election and in the Programme for Government you are now taking the same minimalist approach that was taken by Fianna Fail.
Across the state tens of thousands families face sleepless nights wondering how they will pay their mortgage bill this month. They will be faced with choosing falling into mortgage arrears to buy their children presents for Christmas.
They will have watched your budget speech Minister searching for something that would give them hope.
They will have been bitterly disappointed Minister. And they will be asking themselves a simple question.
If you could find €20.7bn for the banks since taking office, why could you only do the bear minimum for them?
If you can so easily and comprehensively bail out the banks why can you not provide proper support to families at risk of losing their homes?
As you did following the publication of the Keane report in October you have left struggling home owners at the mercy of the banks. You have saddled tens of thousands of home owners with decades of unsustainable debt.
You could have chosen a different course Minister. You could have chosen to make maintaining the family home a priority.
You could have sought appropriate alternatives to ensure debt sustainability; you could have found a way to ensure that the burden of mortgage distress is shared fairly between the borrowers and lenders.
Minister Noonan’s proposal to increase mortgage interest relief to 30% for first time buyers who purchased homes between 2005 and 2008 demonstrates that he doesn’t understand the scale of the problem of mortgage distress.
This is the wrong approach. It will assist some but leave many others in continued distress.
It is arbitrary, discriminatory and not enough.
What about the family who bought their home before 2005 Minister? What about the family who needed to upgrade because of an increase in family size Minister? What about the family who relocated in search of work Minister?
Does your measure assist these struggling mortgage holders?
Before I conclude Minister, I just want to point out that I am very conscious that you are producing this budget and we are debating it today against a backdrop of an intensifying European crisis that could have far reaching implications for the future of Ireland and for the Eurozone.
My party leader and I have asked your Government on numerous occasions whether there is a contingency plan in place for dealing with any eventualities arising from the Euro crisis.
We know other Governments, including the French and Germans, have been developing such plans. Even investment firms here in Dublin have been providing such plans to their customers.
Yet each time we raise this issue you tell us that you have every confidence in your European counterparts and in their ability to stabilise the crisis.
Minister nobody believes you, not the public, not the markets, not this House.
I am urging you again today to bring the opposition parties into Government buildings to discuss this issue in confidence if needs be.
You urgently need to reassure the public that you are taking this crisis seriously and preparing for all possible scenarios.
The events unfolding in Europe are frightening people. Agreements are being reached between powerful EU member states and Ireland is not even represented at the table.
Last week An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said clearly that he was against further treaty change. This morning An Tanaiste Eamonn Gilmore said that the Government was open to negotiation on treaty change. Minister where does the Government stand on this matter?
Do you support enshrining austerity and recession inducing budgetary policy into EU treaty law? Do you support giving the European Court of Justice a say in policing member state budgets?
Do you support the transfer of fiscal powers from this house to the EU institutions?
Do you support the ruling out of any private sector burden sharing in dealing with the currency crisis?
I ask these questions Minister because these are the key elements of the proposals that Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel will bring to the EU crisis summit on Friday. These are the demands that they will be making.
But more importantly Minister these are proposals that will consign this state and its people to a decade of crippling austerity.
If agreed to this weekend they will have negative consequences for employment, for debt for reducing the deficit.
In short Minister they will undermine everything you are claiming to have achieved with this week’s disastrous budget.
Minister what will be the Governments bottom line in the crisis summit this weekend?
Do you even have one?
What price are you willing to accept in exchange for wearing the economic straightjacket being proposed by Sarkozy and Merkel?
Will you return from the summit like Albert Reynolds did in 1992 with a bag full of Euro gold hoping that the electorate will be bedazzled into accepting treaty changes with long term and damaging consequences for Ireland and indeed for Europe?
Or will this Government agree to changes in the hope that you can avoid a referendum, using technical legal arguments to avoid giving the people their say?
Ninety years ago today Minister one of your predecessors signed a treaty that had far reaching and negative consequences for the Irish people. Let us hope that An Taoiseach does not come back to Ireland after this summit having made the same mistake.
Minister you have been softening up the Irish people for months telling them you had to deliver this budget, that you had to make tough choices, that you had no choices.
You have raised the spectre of the Troika and the Memorandum of Understanding, which you said you would renegotiate, on every occasion to defend your own economic agenda.
I believe that there were choices to be made this week. My party’s pre budget submission set out choices.
It chose not to go after ordinary families. It chose to invest in growth and jobs. It chose to cut the high earners in the public sector and to tax those who could afford it. You claim that you could not make those choices because of the Memorandum. This is not true.
My party has met with the Troika.
They have expressly stated that their prevailing interest is in our deficit reduction and ability to meet debt repayments.
They say that they accept measures in the Memorandum of Understanding are flexible as long, and this is the key, as long as they return the same value.
So you have consciously chosen to apply the measures that you have applied this week.
You have gone at this economy with a wrecking ball with your ill thought out, poorly prioritised budget and we will all be the worse off for it.
You won’t stop there. You plan to privatise our state assets.
You plan to bring in three more years of cuts budgets, in the face of all the evidence that they will not work.
Despite all your bluster in opposition, the minute you arrived in Government buildings, you wrapped yourself in the Fianna Fail flag and continued to sell this state down the river. You do not care about the effects of austerity.
Last night a homeless man was found dead in Dublin. They suspect he died from hypothermia. Does that move you at all Minister?
That you are a member of a Government that allows people to die on the streets from the cold?
Every year I leave this Dáil through the front gate and I immediately see two spots where homeless people sleep.
Hand on heart, I ask myself, what impact has this budget had on these people. The answer is always none. You should put the question to yourself Minister.
You are exposed Minister. The Irish people sat in judgement of Fianna Fail and I promise you, they will judge Fine Gael and Labour.”