Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath has promised that next month’s budget will not be a “slash and burn” affair, with him primed to stimulate the economy to the tune of billions of Euro.
At the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, Mr McGrath moved to reassure his colleagues that, despite the country being in the teeth of a severe recession, austerity is not the approach he will be taking.
Mr McGrath in his presentation said the budget is being prepared against a backdrop of uncertainty with Ireland facing a “perfect storm” in terms of Covid-19 and Brexit.
In his contribution, Taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke at length as to the ongoing economic impact of Covid-19 while committing to delivering a “continuity” in welfare supports for the people.
He was deeply critical of Sinn Féin’s “cynical, opportunistic and negative” attacks on the Government.
Jackie Cahill TD raised the lack of support for the Taoiseach in the Dáil during what he called was the Sinn Féin “onslaught” earlier on Wednesday.
He pointed out that the Taoiseach was on his own except for two government TDs and that Sinn Féin TD’s were getting plenty of speaking time from the Ceann Comhairle.
Longford TD Joe Flaherty told the meeting that the timing of the announcement on the appointment of special advisors for junior ministers was wrong and questioned the need for them.
Senator Malcolm Byrne, in a light-hearted moment, asked the Taoiseach if he had taken Sligo TD Marc MacSharry’s advice last Friday night when he came out on his own to deliver his address on TV.
"Micheál was irritated so Malcolm quickly added it was a joke," said a source.
TDs Cormac Devlin and John McGuinness raised the issue of the pandemic unemployment payment, with both men calling for the top €350 a week rate to be reinstated.
While Mr Martin made no direct remarks in that direction, several sources have said they understand some movement on that rate on budget day is likely.
The Taoiseach also raised the concern about the threat of a no-deal trade Brexit and the impact that would have on the economy.
He described the threat of a no-deal Brexit as “serious”.