Dáil returns: Fianna Fáil's budget proposals ‘pie in the sky’

The Government has hit out at Fianna Fáil’s “pie in the sky” budget proposals which they claim do not add up.

On top of changes which were hammered out with Fine Gael as part of the confidence and supply agreement, Fianna Fáil want to suspend water charges indefinitely, increase the State pension by €5, and provide an additional €100m to fund third level education as part of the upcoming budget.

However, last night government sources said Fianna Fáil’s “feet need to be held to the fire” with regard to proposals they are putting forward outside the agreement.

A source said their plans would be “leap too far” if all funds are coming from the public purse, adding that the party need “some realism” when it comes to what is available in next month’s budget.

“They are trying to own and disown this budget.”

He said, “a lot of people are waiting for this Government to fail” but added that they are not scrutinizing Fianna Fáil enough.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath described the comments as “nonsense” and added that the party were being “responsible”.

He said Fianna Fáil are exerting some influence but are not writing the budget or taking from the confidence and supply agreement.

It understood that Mr McGrath, party leader Micheál Martin and public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary stressed that the party are facilitating government and are not in power themselves at a Fianna Fáil front bench meeting yesterday which mainly focused on budget proposals.

Both parties now appear to be at odds when it comes to the figures around the scrapping of water charges, which Fianna Fáil want to put on ice for an indefinite period.

Fine Gael have estimated that axing water charges would cost around €200m each year, however, Fianna Fáil estimate that it would equate to €138m.

Although Fianna Fail are pushing for an additional €100m investment in third level education, they are looking at making businesses pay towards this.

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