Cabinet warned demands for extra funds will be viewed 'extremely negatively'

Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe have been accused of “control freakery” by ministerial colleagues after they issued a “omerta” warning over demands for more money in the budget.

With three weeks to go until the budget, ministers and their advisers have been warned any sort of “kite-flying” in terms of additional spending will be viewed “extremely negatively”.

“Demands for more money being made through the pages of the newspapers will see people put at the back of the queue,” said one senior Government source.

The Irish Examiner has learned Finance Minister Mr Donohoe has made it known to ministerial colleagues and to Fianna Fáil that leaks from meetings will not be tolerated and he is insisting that discussions stay private.

“Paschal made it very clear, very clear, that he does not want to see rows about money being held in public. He wants all discussions held in private,” said a source close to Mr Donohoe.

While the Government will increase spending by €1.8bn next year, because of monies previously committed to projects, the level of new spending will be just €300m and competition for funds is intense.

It has emerged that ministerial advisers have been warned by the Taoiseach’s office that demands for additional revenues “through the airwaves” will be deemed unacceptable.

“The diktat has come from Government Buildings loud and clear. Given how limited the amount of additional money there is available, just €300m, the message has been made loud and clear about kite-flying,” said one senior minister.

However, several ministers, speaking to the Irish Examiner, have called into question the warnings from the Taoiseach’s office.

“It is a bit ironic, that Leo is the one demanding silence now he is Taoiseach. It smacks a bit of control freakery,” said one minister.

Mr Donohoe was understood to be “very vexed” when details of a meeting with the Independent Alliance emerged in the media.

Last night, Mr Varadkar made a speech to business leaders in which he declared his intentions to reward workers in October’s budget.

“Too many people feel they pay for everything but get little in return,” he said.

He also said the Government will outlaw zero-hour contracts in new legislation which will be prioritised during this Dáil term.

In the speech to Ibec, Mr Varadkar said Government is committed to helping create good employment, with well-paying jobs, good conditions, and pension entitlements.

“The Government will legislate to help employees whose contracts do not reflect the reality of the hours they work, and will prohibit so-called zero-hour contracts,” he said. “This week we decided to prioritise publication of this legislation this Dáil session.”

Mr Varadkar said again his Government would reward work and benefit those on middle incomes who pay the highest rates of tax.

“Too many people feel that they pay for everything but get little in return,” he said. “High taxes that take away 49% of the overtime you do, the extra hours you work, or the pay increase you earned are a barrier to opportunity and to work.”

Mr Donohoe has previously spoken about his desire to raise the point at which earners pay the top rate of tax.

Mr Varadkar set out what he called were five principles and three key assurances of his Government’s economic policy.

“The first is a prudent fiscal policy, balancing the budget and reducing the national debt; ensuring that work pays by reducing personal taxation; an ambitious programme for capital infrastructure; a foreign policy that supports free trade, managed migration, keeping Ireland at the centre of Europe, and embracing multi-lateralism as the best way to solve the world’s many problems, and achieving full employment, and more than that — good jobs that pay the bills, improved employment rights, and pensions.”


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