Budget measures row-back ruled out
The Government is adamant there will be no row-back on any aspect of the budget in the face of growing criticism from Fine Gael and Labour backbench TDs.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said there would not be any budget changes.
“Budget 2013 won’t be changed, it’s a tough budget, its going to impact on everyone. But it is one that we have to bring through to ensure we get our public finances in order and that’s a prerequisite to growth and jobs.” he told reporters today.
Despite concerns over certain measures the package would not be reopened. “I can understand that people have issues with individual parts of the budget but it is a package and we’re not willing to reopen it,” he said.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte yesterday ruled out any change to the cuts in child benefit and respite care announced last Wednesday.
Asked on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics whether pressure from its backbench TDs would force the Government to revise its decision to cut the respite grant by €325, he replied: “No U-turn. I understand perfectly well how difficult some of the decisions are. The priority was to protect the weekly allowance to carers: the carer’s benefit, the carer’s allowance, and the half carer’s allowance . . . And the Minister [for Social Protection Joan Burton] had very difficult decisions to make, and it seems to me she was very successful [in what she achieved].”
The position of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore remained that no changes would be made, their spokespeople confirmed yesterday.
A Government source said there were fears if concessions were granted on any one issue everything would unravel.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said: “The budget . . . was put together in the most difficult and fraught circumstances. What was decided was the only thing that both parties could live with.
“It would be an appalling vista to have to revisit it again.”
Labour MEP Nessa Childers said this morning she did not see how her party could stay in Government without the programme for government being renegotiated.
"The Labour Party desperately tried to keep to their promises. But have failed. The programme for government must be reneogitated and if necessary put to members of the party as soon as possible. We cannot go into another budget without renegotiating that. I think we’ll be wrong footed at every turn," she told RTÉ radio.
"The situation is becoming increasingly volatile and has been so for a number of weeks. There are about eight or nine people who are seriously concerned over the Budget. I actually don’t know what will happen. Some people might vote against it. They are still trying to get change from the Ministers concerned."
Crucial votes will take place this week on the Social Welfare Bill, giving effect to cuts in child benefit and respite, and a motion of no confidence from Sinn Féin.
Ahead of both votes, the number of TDs from Fine Gael and Labour who have criticised the budget has risen to over 20. However, there is a strong consensus that the majority will support the Government.
Doubt does remain over the intentions of a small number of TDs, including Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney. He said his concerns about the budget had increased this weekend on foot of feedback from his Galway East constituency.