No U-turn on budget, say Coalition leaders
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday insisted no budgetary measures would be reversed as Labour backbenchers met Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to press for change.
Government TDs have returned to their constituencies to face anger about cuts to child benefit and the respite care grant. A timetable for the collection of the controversial new property tax was revealed when the proposed legislation was published yesterday.
Mr Kenny ruled out any row-back on the budget, saying the measures would improve Ireland’s competitiveness: “The budget’s been voted through in the Dáil. It will be carried through and we hope as a consequence of that to make ourselves as a country continually more competitive.”
Mr Gilmore said: “The budget is a package. The budget stands and we don’t intend to unravel any part of that budget.” Labour backbenchers will come under pressure in the Dáil when the Social Welfare Bill is debated next week.
Four Labour TDs met Ms Burton for an hour yesterday to push for changes to the €10 reduction in child benefit. The TDs were Ann Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny); Robert Dowds (Dublin Mid-West); Eamon Maloney (Dublin South-West) and Michael Conaghan (Dublin South-Central). Clare deputy Michael McNamara has also been a vocal critic of the cut.
Ms Burton indicated there would be no change, said Ms Phelan. “I don’t think anything is going to be reversed at this stage. We are going to get woeful backlash for it but if in our hearts we can say this is what we have to do to deliver the country then it has to be done.”
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said his party would table a vote of no confidence in the Coalition, while Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on social protection Willie O’Dea called on Ms Burton to reverse the €325 cut to the €1,700 respite care grant.
Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said the Government had missed an “open goal” by failing to ensure the child benefit cut did not impact on low-income families.
Siptu general secretary Jack O’Connor warned: “People will not accept the imposition of measures detrimental to the most vulnerable at the flick of a switch while those affecting the top earners proceed at such a leisurely stroll.”
Meanwhile, the Revenue Commissioners require by May 7th that homeowners submit a self-assessed valuation of their properties, although those using the online service have until May 28th. Failure to pay the tax by July 1st will result in the application of interest charges.