Minister this budget is a disgrace. You told us last year that ‘the worst was over’. Now we hear that low and middle-income families are to be hit with more punitive taxation increases and spending cuts.
You tell us that there is hope. The only hope I see is the calling of a general election. You are sparse on the detail on cuts in your speech here today Minister, but we can see in the documentation what these cuts are and we will see them starkly in the year ahead.
€8 euro reduction for dole recipients. €10 reduction in child benefit. €180 less in tax credits. Petrol and diesel up. Rent relief to be phased out. Maternity benefit and adoptive benefit cut. €9 million in cuts for Community development projects. 5% reduction in capitation fees for student services. Reduction in student supports grants. €746 million from the health budget. Free legal aid cuts.
And you claim this is fair?
And all to pay for a failed banking strategy. The policy behind this budget is not only morally wrong – it is economic sabotage.
€6 billion is being taken out of the economy is the most damaging way.
This government has decided that someone who earns over one million euro a year contributes enough but a person on the minimum wage, or someone who has lost their job and is receiving €196 a week on social welfare, must survive on less. With this budget, you have lowered the disposable income of every spender in the real economy. The quality of their lives will deteriorate and then their local businesses will feel the squeeze. You are prolonging the cycle of recession.
I don’t know how you have the neck to even present a budget. Your government has failed the people of Ireland. You have given away our sovereignty in much the same way your colleagues gave away our natural resources in the 80s.
You have brought the IMF and the EU to our shores. They are here to help this government to protect foreign banks and bondholders. They are here for the Irish people’s tax euros, not to protect us.
What is absolutely disgusting is that when the whole country is screaming for political reform, the government is relying on the votes of two gombeen politicians demanding pet projects for their own backyard to get this budget passed. There is no room for this type of politics in Ireland anymore. We can’t afford it.
During the course of writing your budget Minister, did you consider the ordinary people on the street who are suffering because of what you have done? When was the last time you took a trip up to the local social welfare office and chatted to somebody dependant on the dole? When was the last time you visited a school made entirely out of prefabs with 30 kids squashed into a classroom with one teacher?
It’s easy to talk about people as statistics Minister. You are a member of the political class, the elite. It doesn’t matter to you what effect your cuts have on the ground because you will never have to experience it. The same goes for all the right-wing economists out there who are cheering you on with your austerity measures.
You will never see a dole queue. You will never have to choose between paying the bills and buying food. You will never have to send your children off to school hungry in the morning. You will never have to emigrate.
You Minister, like all your colleagues will go off now to the Dáil bar for the evening and celebrate another budget. You will then be driven home in your ministerial car. You will take home a tidy salary every week and when you retire you and your colleagues will receive a comfortable ministerial pension for the rest of your days.
Last year you told this house that the 2010 budget was the last harsh budget that would be needed.
You have repeatedly misled the public. If spending cuts worked, then our deficit would have been reduced by now. Our public finances would be back on track.
Alternative + Banks
The clear message I want to give here today is this — there is a better way.
Sinn Féin has put forward a clear alternative, one that is based on fair taxation, eliminating waste and stimulating the economy.
Our alternative protects the most vulnerable but asks those who have more to pay more. Our alternative would see these cuts reversed. I am calling on anybody hoping to form the next government to commit to introducing a budget as soon as they are elected that overturns these cuts.
Our alternative says ‘no’ to IMF interference, ‘no’ to EU interference and ‘tough luck’ to the bondholders. You gambled, you lost. Your debt is bank debt, not sovereign debt and you now have to accept a market solution to a market problem. The Irish taxpayer is not your insurance policy.
If we proceed with this banking plan, this budget and your four-year plan is already redundant. That plan aims to adjust €15 billion from the state’s finances over 4 years – this is a figure that sits in splendid isolation to the €85 billion negotiated for the bank bail-out. We cannot afford this banking policy, we cannot afford this loan from the IMF and the EU. Most importantly we cannot afford you. We need real negotiators in there now to deal with the banks– not a red cent more should go into Irish banks until their debts are restructured whether through burning the bondholders or giving them debt for equity swaps.
The addition of that €67.5 billion to our sovereign debt will incur debt servicing of huge proportions over the coming years – amounts that we simply cannot afford. I say €67 billion, because it’s important we emphasise that €17.5 billion of this alleged bail-out is coming from our own pockets. Who decided that the figure could be lumped in with the IMF/EU loan and presented as a bail-out for the Irish people? Again we see the Fianna Fáil spin operation in all its glory – attempting to convince the Irish people that they are being helped while simultaneously shoveling billions more of their euros into banks that we have already given billions to.
Our domestic public finances can be fixed.
The crisis we are is the result of this government, through its deeply flawed banking policy, attempting to turn a banking crisis into a sovereign debt crisis. And it is being aided by our so-called partners in the EU.
This is about political choices. It is about having the political will to put ordinary people first. That is what this government should be doing today. That is what Sinn Féin would do.
This budget will create untold hardship for hundreds of thousands of people. It will mean little hope of economic recovery in the years ahead. It is a disaster for society and for the economy. It is a disaster for young people who wanted to build their future here and it is a disaster for the families that will be left behind.
The ESRI estimates that almost 120,000 people will emigrate from Ireland by the end of next year. 90 years since the foundation of the state and Fianna Fáil is once again using emigration as a safety valve in times of rising unemployment.
These young people who are leaving our shores should be the next generation of Irish entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors and teachers. These are the people who can re-build our economy and deliver our public services. We are training nurses for four years at a cost of €90,000 per nurse to the state, and next year, 90% of new nurses will leave our shores. And our hospitals will remain understaffed.
I would ask any young person who is planning to leave —stay and change Ireland. We can get rid of this government. And we do not have to replace it with parties that pursue similar policies.
We can build a better Ireland.
You can be part of consigning the corruption and cronyism, the greed and incompetence that created this crisis to history. You can be the generation to achieve real political change, to build a sustainable economy and a fairer society.
The people of Ireland deserve better than this budget.
They deserve better than this government.
Nobody should think that we in Sinn Féin underestimate the magnitude of the problems in our public finances.
We have a structural deficit even aside from the banking crisis that must and can be addressed. It has been caused by this government steadily eroding the tax base, allowing unemployment to rise and allowing a culture of waste and excess to develop in sections of the public sector.
Latterly it has been added to by the government’s obsession with the banks and the debt servicing interest that has incurred.
We can reduce the structural deficit but it must be done hand-in-hand with a plan to grow the economy in a sustainable way.
Sinn Féin has put forward a six-year plan to reduce the deficit to within the Stablility and Growth Pact – beginning with an immediate €4.671 billion reduction of the deficit in 2011, which can be made if wasteful public spending is eliminated and the taxation system is overhauled. We have identified over €1 billion in wasteful spending and over €4 billion through making the tax system fairer. When we put forward our six-year plan, the Taoiseach excluded us from talks in government buildings. Fine Gael and Labour leapt on the four-year bandwagon and they were invited to join the consensus of cuts, which they did willingly. We said it couldn’t be done in four years and cuts would make everything worse. The EU has already extended the adjustment period to 2015 and it is widely accepted that even that is an optimistic figure. We have been proved right yet again.
If the government laid out a credible strategy to restore the Irish economy to a growth trajectory, then the bond markets would have more confidence that Ireland will be able to pay back its debts and yields will lower accordingly.
The government’s strategy to date has simply focused on the deficit, without enough attention to the wider economy – which at the end of the day is the ‘engine’ that provides both tax revenue and contributes to overall GDP. The deficit is the result of our economic woes – not the cause. If we treat the causes – unemployment and a tax collapse, the deficit will be treated.
The four-year plan is a joke. It is an accountancy exercise with no economic impact assessment. If taking €4 billion out of the economy in 2009 brought down taxes by €7 billion, what will a €6 billion adjustment do? And it is based on the most ludicrous assumption of growth ever imagined by a government about to slash a state’s finances. Average 3% growth rates? Get real Minister. The international community is laughing at you.
I want to deal now with some of the specifics of this budget. Bad economics – tax cuts, de-regulation and tax subsidies for the speculators in the boom – got us into this mess and the bad economics of this budget, with its spending cuts, slashing incomes and stealth taxes are digging the hole deeper.
The four-year planned had indicated that €3 billion would be taken out of the social welfare budget by 2014. Details of what this actually means have now been revealed by the Minister today.
People have lost their jobs, they are sitting at home tonight unemployed and in cold houses. This additional €40 is to go only to households that are in receipt of the fuel allowance.
The Minister pointed to ‘low inflation’ as a justification for cutting social welfare rates by 4% but prices for many essential goods and services have actually increased e.g. health, education, transport and energy costs have all increased.
A survey conducted by Sinn Féin of 278 social welfare recipients last week clearly demonstrates that families on social welfare simply cannot afford to take this hit. Almost 90% of those surveyed will go without essentials this Christmas, be that food, heating fuel or Christmas presents.
How are people supposed to live on this amount per week?
Cutting social welfare should be the last thing that a government does in a time of economic difficulty. Cutting social welfare payments will have a detrimental effect on the economy and society. Welfare payments are always returned back into the economy. They are not saved or invested abroad. They are spent on rent, mortgages, food, utilities and other essentials. Cutting welfare is a false economy and one that ultimately only causes misery for those on the receiving end of the policy.
If less money is spent, the economy will contract, businesses will struggle and more jobs will be lost. More people will be reliant on social welfare.
Does this make any sense?
Sinn Féin is absolutely opposed to the cuts to social welfare announced today.
We have shown where the revenue could be raised to ensure that welfare rates were protected.
It is a matter of political choices – start cutting at the top where the highest paid and the wealthy can afford to take cuts or start at the bottom, as this government has done, targeting those struggling to get by and barely surviving from day-to-day.
Any TD who votes for these cuts deserves to be kicked out at the general election.
You say it is too complicated to make the tax system fairer. Why is it too complicated to reform the taxation system so that those on huge salaries contribute more, but it is not too complicated to consign the poorest to a life of scrimping, saving and poverty?
If you look at the public finances it is apparent that we have less of a spending problem and more of a tax raising and retention problem. There is ample room for overhauling the taxation system without turning us into a ‘high-tax’ economy. Sinn Féin has shown how this can be done and how €4 billion could be immediately raised and have the least negative effect on the economy.
Instead the tax changes in this budget once again target the least well off – those on the minimum wage and the low paid.
One of the biggest spins being pedalled by the Government is that we must extend the ‘tax system’ to those who don’t pay any tax. This compounds the ignorance of the Irish tax structure. Let’s set one record straight:
Ireland relies disproportionately on indirect taxation. It always has. For every €100 received by the state in direct taxes, €146 in paid in indirect taxes. These taxes disproportionately hit lower earners.
Yesterday I was asked in an interview if I thought that such a large group should not be paying any taxes. It’s easy to talk about ‘groups’. Let’s break it down. We believe that someone earning €300 a week is already paying enough tax. You’ve told us how much more you think they should pay. That now has to be absorbed into all their other bills – their rent, food, childcare, electricity. Which service do you think they’ll drop first?
These tax increases are across the board – the fail to target those who have the ability to pay. This is a big mistake and one that will be damaging for the economy and for consumer spending.
The changes in taxes and bands will be as follows based on a 10% reduction.
· The cut off point for the standard rate tax band will be reduced from €36,400 for a single person to €32,760, putting more people in the higher tax rate bracket.
· The cut off point for the standard rate tax band will be reduced from €45,400 for a one income married couple to €40,860
· The cut off point for the standard rate tax band will be reduced from €72,800 for a two income married couple to €65,520
· The cut off point for the standard rate tax band will be reduced from €40,400 for a single parent family to €36,360
The screw is being tightened once again on the lowest paid – punishing them for this government incompetence and the recklessness of the banks. But there are no increases for top earners.
Universal social charge
The decision to abolish the income levy and health levy and create a universal charge is a step back wards – this is a flat tax and this change will benefit the better off – it will be the same for everybody regardless of their ability to pay – we did not support the income levies but at least there was some progressivity in that the higher paid were subject to higher rates. This is in effect a cut for top earners while the lowest earners are brought into the tax net.
Increases in VAT
You don’t mention increases in VAT, but we know they are coming. They will push up the cost of living. They will disproportionately hits low earners and will cause chaos for businesses, particularly in border counties.
We need to start from the top down by making those who have most pay most – something that is totally alien to this government.
No wealth tax
A wealth tax should have been introduced as part of this budget. Wealth taxes have been successfully implemented in other European countries and form an essential part of a government’s revenue stream. Rather than introduce a wealth tax this government prefers to cut welfare and to drag the low paid back into the tax net.
Despite the economic collapse there is still considerable wealth in this state. The top 1% of the population of this state owns 20% of all the wealth. Our proposed wealth tax would raise a conservative estimate of €1 billion and would be in the form of a 1% income-linked tax on all assets, including property but excluding working farmlands which are worth in excess of €1 million.
There are a range of other measures you could have introduced that would have raised revenue while making the tax system fairer. You could have:
Immediately standardised all discretionary tax reliefs to raise €1.1 billion;
introduced a third tax rate of 48% on incomes in excess of €100,000 to raise €410 million;
increased Capital Gains tax to 40% to raise €240 million
Again none of these measures have been introduced.
Cuts to public spending
The cuts to public spending bear no logic. The amount being cut will be detrimental to services that are already struggling. Health and education will suffer. You should have capped the salaries of public servants at 100,000 euro. This would have saved 350 million euro for the state per year. You chose instead to make aesthetic cuts to the highest paid civil servants. The head of the HSE earns in excess of €300,000 a year. The heads of our semi-states earn more again. Padraig MacManus in the ESB, I read yesterday, is on over 700,000 per year. The Taoiseach and the rest of you Ministers earn more than most of your European counterparts and yet you have bankrupted the state.
You said very few people in the public sector earn over €250,000 but a report earlier this summer found that 66 public servants in Ireland receive more than €500,000 each including 37 judges, the head of NAMA, and the head of the NTMA.
Even with the so-called pay cuts taken by the Taoiseach and Ministers, Brian Cowen still earns €36,000 more than David Cameron; the Secretary General of the Department of Finance still earns more than the permanent secretary of the treasury and the CEO of An Post still earns more than the managing director of Royal Mail. We are still far higher than our neighbours in these areas but you made empty gestures to address this.
Our public health budget, through the successful efforts of Mary Harney, subsidises the private health care sector to the tune of billions – but not everyone can afford private health care. This is where savings could have been made Minister, if you had shown yourself to have any moral fibre.
Again you have gone for flat rate reductions in child benefit. Child benefit is a payment made to every child in the state in recognition of the fact that this state does not provide free healthcare, fully-free education or free anything for children. In this state, you have to pay a doctor an average of €60 to have your six week old baby treated. If you believe Minister that there are parents out there who can afford to get by without this benefit and I am sure there are, you should have gone after their incomes via tax. You cannot justify going after the payment that is made to their child and in such a way as to hit everyone, poor and rich alike.
Health spending is to be cut by over €1.4bn over the term of the four-year plan.
You want to take €746 million out next year.
The health system is already in crisis – services are being cut across the state. I have seen this firsthand. Look at Sligo and Letterkenny hospitals. Look at the distance that many patients are already forced to travel to access health services. Look at the waiting lists.
If these cuts are implemented there is no doubt but that waiting lists will lengthen. Understaffing will result in more misdiagnoses. More people will be left for days on trolleys.
These health cuts will cost lives. While waiting lists grow and patients suffer as they wait for operations there are now over 1500 beds in our public hospitals closed due to cuts. The cuts in this Budget will close hundreds, if not thousands more public hospital beds. Prescription charges have been imposed on medical card holders while drug companies continue to make vast profits.
In the past week there was an average of around 300 patients on trolleys in A&E Departments in our public hospitals.
The recruitment ban in the health services means that fully trained nurses and doctors are being educated here to the highest standard only to have to emigrate. This Budget will accelerate the brain drain from our health services.
Supporting and funding preventative health saves money – cutting funding for these services makes no sense.
Has nothing been learnt from the disastrous health cuts of the 1980s? The reality in the years ahead will be that if you can pay you will live, if you can’t you may die.
Overall this is a terrible budget for education. In times of recession we need to make education the gateway to recovery. This government year after year has done the exact opposite. Cuts to the disadvantaged, school buildings, special needs and capitation grants, as well as charging fees on students. This government is intent on making education a preserve of the rich. Gone are the days of free education, in are the days of underfunded schools and exorbitant fees.
You are introducing an overall reduction of 21% in capital expenditure for education. 9% for primary schools and a whopping 20% for secondary schools. This is a scandalous situation. Children will continue to go to school in prefabs. Money will continue to be wasted by throwing rent to private prefab renters. Classes will be unable to cope with more children and less room. We could have invested in school buildings, we could have created much-needed employment in the construction sector.
A 5% cut in capitation funding for primary schools. Schools are already struggling with high class sizes and limited resources. The government are now limiting those resources even further. The capitation grant pays for the day to day running of the school, by reducing it schools will be forced to rely on families to fundraise in order to keep schools open. A 2% cut in special needs education. We have already seen special classes close down, Special Needs Assistants sacked. What happened to protecting the vulnerable?
A 9% cut in grants to secondary schools. A 3% cuts to VECs. Registration fee up to €2,000. This is tantamount to introducing tuition fees through the back door. The government purports to wanting to build a knowledge economy. The reality of this fee is that it will lead to thousands of young people literally not being able to go to college.
Absence of stimulus
Once again the Government has brought forward a budget that contains no real funding for a stimulus plan. You have rolled out minister after minister to talk about stimuli. The IDA and Enterprise Ireland have announced job creation numbers to beat the band. But nobody has spelt out how this will work or how it will be paid for. The government estimated in the four-year-plan that there would be a 0.25% net employment loss in 2011. There are almost 450,000 people unemployed now.
You and the other parties in here talk the talk of stimulus but none of you have any detail or costings to back it up.
In your mission to get within the Stability and Growth Pact, which, let’s face it, is a nonsense economic principle to begin with, you are ready to throw thousands out of work and in the process destroy businesses, lives and whole economies. Consider the terrifying facts. The Irish economy has gone through recession and entered what economists call a depression. Unemployment stands at over 13 per cent and we are facing mass emigration. The depths of misery lying behind these statistics cannot be exaggerated.
The State is now a major owner of property -hotels, office blocks, and ghost housing estates – yet there is no statement as to how economic value might be obtained from these assets.
The austerity measures in this budget – the increase in VAT, the increase in taxes for those on low and middle incomes, the cuts in welfare and the planned cuts to the minimum wage — will further depress the economy and cause more jobs to be lost.
Cuts to the local government budget, which forces cash strapped local authorities to raise rates for businesses and service charges, hitting the public with a double whammy.
And let’s be clear: there can be no recovery if jobs aren’t created. Jobs have to be created if we are to reduce the social welfare bill. Jobs have to be created if we are to increase the tax take. Jobs have to be created if are to restore people’s standard of living and quality of life. Jobs have to be created if we are to grow this economy.
Sinn Féin has proposed a once-off transfer from the National Pension Reserve Fund of €7 billion for a jobs stimulus– equal to the investment at the beginning of the year in AIB and Bank of Ireland.
Instead this government, in agreement with the IMF and the EU, is proposing to take billions from the same Pensions Reserve Fund to put into the black hole that is the banking system.
With the right policies and the right supports jobs can be created in sectors such as agri-food, tourism, IT and green technologies.
We can have a new generation of entrepreneurs and a revitalisation of the co-operatives sector.
This government can always find additional billions for the banks, but says it cannot find money for recovery. We have shown where it can be found. It is the domestic economy that is flatlining, and it is the domestic economy that the people live in day-to-day that needs attention.
Minister, you said that you were going to help the unemployed by the creation of an additional 15,000 activation places in internships and work placements. You said this will be at a cost of €200 million. But where is the money coming from and who is administering this? Minister, 15,000 places at €200 million?
You have done nothing substantial to create jobs. You’ve given us fluff and spin as usual.
Sale of state assets
Minister, there is no detail here on your plans for state assets, but we know it is coming. The decision to sell off state assets to fund the growing bank debt is a crime. This is a classic example of the shortsighted policies that we have come to expect from this government. In the good times, you sold off companies like Telecom and look where that got us. A decade of poor and often non-existent broadband provision.
State companies should be kept in state ownership. We could even ask the more profitable of these companies to frontload some of their dividends to us for the next number of years to help improve the public finances. In every country the IMF has interfered in, the modus operandi has been to strip those countries of their assets and privatize them. As it happens, they are not facing much opposition from the so-called leaders in this state. Fine Gael have even provided them with a blue print in their ‘new era’ plan. Sinn Féin will resist the selling off of the family silver to fund a private banking crisis and we’ll be calling on all those progressive forces who also oppose this policy to support us.
Capital Budget cuts
To top it all, you are making ‘savings’ from the capital budget. This is another false economy. Public investment is what is needed right now, for everybody, even the private sector’s benefit. We need to improve our infrastructure. We need to create jobs. You cannot begin to talk about stimulus while you are cutting from this section of the budget.
The 24% cut in road maintenance and improvement alone is nothing short of a scandal. Roads in areas like Donegal and other rural areas are beyond a joke. To cut funding in this manner is a disgrace. Jobs will be lost. More people will be put on the dole. This along with the 13% cut in road safety agencies will impact hugely on the safety of drivers.
A new government
The public won’t take this budget on the chin. They have forced you to call an election early, though you would have clung onto power with your fingernails for longer. They gave their assessment of your economic plans in the Donegal by-election. They will give their assessment again in the new year.
And people won’t just accept a change of faces.
Does anybody believe for one minute that Michael Noonan would be a better or fairer Finance Minister? His actions when he was Minister for Health will give you the answer to that. Fine Gael subscribe to the same economic policies as this government. It’s farcical for them to make any kind of judgement of this budget. Nobody can understand why you still claim to be two separate parties.
And it is clear that Labour will accept and implement Fine Gael polices because it has no alternative to offer. Eamon Gilmore personal ratings may still be high in the opinion polls but people are beginning to see that the emperor has no clothes.
When Joan Burton condemns this budget we should not forget that her party leader has clearly stated that in government his party would not reverse cuts introduced in this budget no matter how savage those cuts are. Their own pre-budget submission talked about lay-offs in the public service, cuts to frontline services and bringing low earners deeper into the tax net. Tell me, how does putting an extra 15,000 people on the dole contribute to economic recovery? Tell me how many construction workers will be made redundant as a result of cutting the capital budget by €1.2 billion, as the labour party proposes. How many schools will be left over-crowded and unfinished? Fine Gael’s policies are a mirror image of Fianna Fáil’s. Labour’s are incoherent, weak and illiterate.
Náire ort, a Aire. Beidh na mílte Éireannaigh, fir agus mná, ag fulaingt mar thoradh air seo.
Tá slí níos fearr ann. Chuir Sinn Féin an plean sin ós do chomhair ach níor éist tú. Mholamar cáin ar shaibhreas, teorainn ar ioncaim ag na ndaoine siúd ag an leibéil is airde sa seirbhís poiblí, deireadh le scannal na dtuarastal ró-ard agus na costais ag príomhfheidhmeannaigh na gcomhlachtaí stáit. Níor éist tú. In ionad cothrom na féinne sa bhuiséad seo tá tú ag cosaint na daoine ar bharr arís agus ag ionsaí na daoine ar bhun.
Cé a bheidh ag íoc as do pholasaí tubaisteach chun bancanna teipthe agus an uasal-aicme a chosaint? Na daoine a bheidh thíos leis ná teaghlaigh óga, sean-daoine, na glúine daoine óga nach mbeidh an dara rogha acu ach imeacht as an tír seo. Na banaltraí, na múinteoirí, oibrithe sna húdaráis áitiúla, na comhraiceoirí dóiteáin – beidh siad siúd thíos leis chomh maith. Mar an gcéanna na daoine atá ag braith ar leas soisialta, tuismitheoirí aonair, daoine míchumasaithe, daoine tinn.
Tá scrois déanta agat sa bhuiséad seo agus is cuma leat cén toradh a bheidh ann do ghnáthdaoine atá ag obair agus dóibh siúd nach bhfuil postanna acu.
Níl ciall ná réasún leis an bhuiséad seo. Tá tú ag déanamh ciorraithe ar ioncaim na ndaoine a chaitheann an ioncaim sin sa gheilleagar áitiúl, ag tacú le gnóanna agus ag cruthú fostaíocht.
Níl iarracht sa bhuiséad seo chun postanna a chruthú. Má cheapann tú gur féidir linn teacht as an meathlú seo le ciorraithe a chur i bhfeidhm agus gan stráitéis chun postanna a chruthú tá tú as do mheabhair. Cuireadh ciorraithe i bhfeidhm ó 2007 agus tá an meathlú níos measa anois agus tá ard-cheannas eacnamaíochta an Stáit seo díolta agaibh don IMF agus ECB. Má tá an toil ann is féidir postanna a chruthú. Tá sé léirithe ag Sinn Féin conas is féidir é sin a dhéanamh. Ach is léir nach bhfuil an toil ag an Rialtas seo.
Minister, you have consistently been offered opportunities to lift this state out of crisis. Instead of taking them – you and your government have pushed us further into crisis. You have yet to give us a rationale why. Even the most right-wing commentators in this state and internationally are questioning your slavish desire to appease the bank bondholders. The Financial Times, of all vehicles, has questioned why you are so willing to sacrifice the Irish taxpayer to protect bondholders who knew exactly the sort of risk they were taking on when they bought bonds in our banks. They contributed to and benefited from the bubble, they should be asked to take responsibility for the bust.
The worst thing is that not only is your banking policy madness, but your domestic finance policies will ensure that the economy collapses completely – so we won’t have a cent to deal with any of the costs you are incurring, let alone the money to run the state. You know this and that’s why you ran to the IMF and the EU and negotiated one of the worse deals certainly this state, and most states around the world has ever seen. Your deal allows for a certain percentage for the banks. The rest is for all the future deficits your policies will create. What a legacy you are leaving us with.
People are going to suffer as a result of this budget that much is clear. What is not clear is why this government insisted on introducing this budget before giving up and calling a general election. You should have spared us all this spectacle and you should have recognised that you have no right and no mandate to do what you are doing. You are acting in contempt of the electorate and it is clear that the Irish electorate have nothing but contempt for you.
We can only hope that you are out of office sooner rather than later. It is an absolute imperative for whoever forms the next government, and those who sit in opposition to ensure this deal is abandoned, to devise a banking plan that will actually work, to reverse these ideological and irrational cuts and to introduce a strategy for real growth.
I am appealing to all the voters who are listening to proceedings here today to base the decision on how you cast your vote on what you have heard here and what you haven’t heard. Sinn Féin has been honest in our proposals. We are not appealing to people’s greed, but their sense of what is right and fair. We can’t offer everybody something. What we can offer is honesty. We can offer them economic proposals that make sense and will fix this crisis. We can offer them a new, fairer society.
My parents like many others emigrated in the sixties to find work because the government then had turned its back on them and turned its back on Ireland. The same thing is happening again. The drop in the live register, simply put is because thousands of young people have turned their backs on Ireland because their so-called leaders have turned their backs on them.
In the past few weeks we have seen thousands of people brave the weather to come out and voice their opposition to this budget. In Donegal South West the people gave their verdict on this government by endorsing my party and our alternative platform. The also rejected the so-called opposition of Fine Gael and Labour and their consensus for cuts.
The one thing we can take from this budget today is that it will hopefully act as a long overdue wake-up call to the Irish people who have had about as much as they can bear. People-power should never be underestimated and it is people power that will eventually oust this government and kick them in the one place where it really hurts – at the polls.