Middle class and working families were mugged in the Budget, the Labour Party claimed tonight.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said despite record job losses, there was not a single initiative to put people back into work, education or training.
He also accused Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of mercilessly targeting middle-income families, protecting the interests of the super-wealthy, and failing to take any significant steps to protect the poor and the vulnerable in the face of the worst recession facing this country for decades.
“The people who will suffer most as a result of this budget are typically the nurse, the teacher, the office manager, the skilled tradesman, the small builder: people struggling to make ends meet, to pay the mortgage each month, to cover the cost of childcare or sending a child to university, to meet the cost of drugs for a sick child,” he said.
Party finance spokesperson Joan Burton said the minister should have delivered a recovery plan for putting the 80,000 people who have lost their jobs back to work.
“Middle class and working families haven’t just taken a hit,” she said. “Middle class families, they have been mugged by the minister.”
Fine Gael’s Richard Bruton said the tax increases in the budget will crucify people on modest incomes.
“The Government is in denial about the financial crisis,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Arthur Morgan described Mr Lenihan’s first budget as a bad budget and a failed leadership test for Government.
“Sinn Féin wanted to see the beginning of a three-year plan to get the economy back on track,” said the party’s finance spokesperson.
“The minister had committed to the building of a strong economy and to protect the most vulnerable in society.
“He has done neither.”