They said it mirrors its 1977, 2002, and 2007 election-focused predecessors which were so tailored to interest groups that they caused years of recession.
Responding to the €1.5bn tax cut and benefits hikes in the Dáil, TDs from the left and right lined up to lash out, saying the housing crisis, fears of a fresh international financial crisis, inequality, and lessons of the past have been ignored.
Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance said: “If the Government hadn’t put 50c on cigarettes I’d wonder what the cabinet are smoking,” adding that what was outlined is “the next artificial boom”.
He said Fianna Fáil attempted a similar election-focused budget in 1977 that was “tailored to every interest group”, leading to a recession that lasted into the early 1990s, and said if Government is “responsible” they should not be “pursuing” the election-focused approach.
He said: “Nobody is going to be fooled this budget was worked out scientifically for the benefit of the economy. This budget was worked out scientifically for the benefit of Fine Gael.”
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said “if what occurred today was a film it would be Back to the Future”.
Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger raised further concerns over the fact the budget means someone on €20,000 a year will gain just €4 a week compared to €17 for someone on €70,000, saying the plan does “nothing for people on the average industrial wage”.
She said the 50c minimum wage increase is “absolutely insulting to people who work night and day” for next to nothing, that the €10m affordable housing plan next year will bring in “just 50 houses”, and that the non-appearance of rent certainty shows “Labour went into battle with Fine Gael and Fine Gael won”.
Independent TD Clare Daly said the “annual pantomime” demonstrates that the Dáil is “disconnected” from ordinary citizens.
“George Bernard Shaw once wrote the government that robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul,” said Ms Daly. “This Government represents Paul.
“You represent the same. You should have called an election in November because the people are sick of you.”