#Budget19: 'If Leos’s choir cheers it like an election budget, well then it is an election budget', says Burton

#Budget19: 'If Leos’s choir cheers it like an election budget, well then it is an election budget', says Burton

Update: Labour's Joan Burton has said that while listening to Paschal Donohoe delivering today's budget it was former minister Charlie McCreevy that she was reminded of "as if we were back to the grand old days".

"Budget prudence goes out the window when there is an election in the air," said Ms Burton.

Speaking to the health budget, Ms Burton referred to it as "a financial black hole if ever there was one".

The Minister for Health is fond of his Instagram and Twitter accounts. ‘Please make it stop’ was one of his gems. Well now this is exactly what taxpayers want when they observe the annual weary announcements of health overspends which have become a truly farcical feature of Fine Gael’s tenure in that Department.

She went on to hit out at government action on climate change referring to "flowery paragraphs" in the National Plan about the challenge ahead and the money allegedly earmarked to deal with the issue.

"If there were to be a Nobel Prize for climate procrastination I guess Donald Trump would win easily but this particular Government would give him a run for his money."

Concluding her statements, Ms Burton said: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it but it is the people who will pay the price".

Earlier: More of the same policies that created housing crisis, says Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin's Housing Spokesperson Eoin O'Broin says despite promises this is not a housing Budget.

"There's a big play by Fianna Fáil in terms of an affordable housing scheme but, in fact, the actual extra spend next year in terms of affordable housing would be a paltry €14m," said Mr O'Broin.

Eoin O'Broin
Eoin O'Broin

"What does that mean for regular people? It means about 490 extra social houses and it means a very, very small number of genuinely affordable homes.

"For example, on the housing front, despite the promise of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that this would be a housing budget it is actually more of the fail policies that's got us into the housing crisis that we're in at the minute."

Earlier: Government must 'cut out obsesssion with spin' and deliver on housing, says Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has said that the government is failing on housing.

Responding to Budget 2019 in the Dáil, he said that "the government that must accept its performance on housing has not been good enough".

The number of people in emergency accommodation is "a national scandal and a scar on our nation", said Mr McGrath as he told the government to "cut out the obsession with spin and focus on delivery".

We have secured a €300m affordable housing package over the next three years including over €200m of new exchequer money. This will provide thousands of new homes which will be made available by eligible first time buyers. These homes will be sold at up to €50,000 below the cost of building the home subject to a maximum discount of 40% of the market value.

Speaking to Fianna Fáil's role in today's budget, Mr McGrath said that it "is not a Fianna Fáil budget but it is a budget that contains some Fianna Fáil measures".

Looking ahead to Brexit, he said: "This Budget and a whole lot more could unravel on the back of a bad Brexit outcome."

The bottom line is – if we have a cliff edge Brexit at the end of March – Ireland will not be ready despite the government having had two years notice of the March 2019 date.

The farming and agri food sector was highlighted as being particularly vulnerable and said that the suggestion that a €25m Brexit loan scheme for the agri food sector will open in early 2020 is "simply not good enough".

On health, Mr McGrath said that it is important to know that Budget 2019 is "an honest health budget" saying that the party were left with "the distinct impression of quite a chaotic budget process for health".

Michael McGrath
Michael McGrath

He continued to say that children waiting up to three years for an Assessment of Need is a "scandal".

Mr McGrath demanded accountability and said the Minister needs to ensure the money given in the budget delivers on the key priorities.

Earlier: Michael Healy-Rae 'disgusted and angry' by tourism VAT increase

Michael Healy-Rae has said that he is disgusted and angry that there has been "such a dramatic increase" in the tourism VAT rate.

"It is a real slap in the face to one of the biggest sectors of employers in our country," said the Kerry TD.

#Budget19: 'If Leos’s choir cheers it like an election budget, well then it is an election budget', says Burton

"The first businesses that will really feel the squeeze will be the ones in rural Ireland, the small operators who rely fully on the peak summer season, if the government had the gumption to at least raise the threshold from €37,500 to €50,000 it may result in a lot of smaller operators being saved.

"I have always said, no matter who it is or what party they are from, be it a Senior Minister or Junior Minister, in Kerry, we are better off having one, than not, but, in this case it seems like our Minister has not made much of an effort to save the 9% VAT rate, it just goes to show having a Minister for Tourism in Kerry clearly doesn’t mean a lot and I would call on Minister Griffin to at least look for the threshold to be increased to try and save some of the operators that will be under severe pressure now due to this increase."

Mr Healy-Rae said that the increase is unnecessary given the uncertainty of Brexit and branded the decision "short-sighted and reckless".

Earlier: So-called 'housing budget' is anything but, say Labour

With Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe set to deliver what is being called a giveaway election budget this afternoon reaction is already emerging from the opposition.

Key areas such as housing and health have already come under scrutiny.

Jan O'Sullivan
Jan O'Sullivan

Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O'Sullivan, has said that housing proposals as part of today's Budget will do nothing to ease the housing crisis when it comes to rent.

"Not one measure printed in any of today’s papers will do anything to help those who are stuck in the eye of the rental storm," said Deputy O'Sullivan.

"Fianna Fáil's so-called affordable housing scheme is a direct subsidy to developers. It's a classic from the Fianna Fáil playbook providing a top up for big builders but doing little to deliver a real affordable scheme.

Despite insistences from Fianna Fáil that this would be a “housing budget”, it is anything but. €300 million for a so-called affordable housing scheme is absolutely miserable in the context of what is actually needed.

“The proposed tax cut for landlords won't deliver one extra rental property but it will line the pockets of those who've been benefitting from the record increases in rent."

Ms O'Sullivan said that the budget marks a "return to the days when budgets were great for developers".

Independent TD Dr Michael Harty has raised concerns about the capacity for doctors to handle another 100,000 people having free GP cards.

"It is very good for those patients who are going to qualify and Slaintecare does address the issue of expanding entitlement to eventually reach universal healthcare for primary care and there is no issue in relation to that.

"The huge issue is in relation to general practice to absorb that extra eligibility.

"We have GPs who are emigrating, we have no GPs coming into the service and we have about 700 GPs out of a total of 2,500 who are going to retire in the next five years so there are huge manpower issues within general practice," said Dr Harty.

"While expanding eligibility is good for the people, general practice doesn't have the capacity to do that and those people are inevitably going to end up in casualty departments."

Dr Harty says the GP contract needs to be addressed before they can deal with extra patients.

Digital Desk

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