Amount of Government debt is ‘elephant in the room’
Inequality in Ireland is four times OECD average, Technical Group TD tells Dáil
Independent TD Mick Wallace said the Government had chosen an “unsustainable, socially divisive and regressive” path in this year’s budget. Meanwhile, Independent TD Clare Daly said, “If you were wealthy this morning, you’re actually going to be even wealthier going to bed tonight.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
The level of Government debt is the “elephant in the room” and if it is not dealt with there is no sustainable hope into the future, according to Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy.
She said that out of every €100 collected in taxation, €14 would go just to servicing national debt, not just next year, but for decades.
Giving her reaction to the budget, the Independent TD asked: “Where is the game changer promised in June 2012, when we were given to expect much of our banking debt would be dealt with?
“The level of the Government debt is the elephant in the room - and without dealing with that there is no sustainable hope into the future.”
Independent TD Mick Wallace said the Government had chosen an “unsustainable, socially divisive and regressive” path in this year’s budget.
He quoted the programme for government, which stated “we all benefit from living in a more equal society”. But the Government was presiding over a huge increase in inequality, which he said was four times that of the OECD average.
The Government “not only doesn’t give a damn about inequality but actively promotes it”, she claimed.
The Wexford TD accused the Government of doing nothing for young people. “You are making this country uninhabitable for our young people” for the sake of people “who don’t even need your help, many of them don’t even live here”.
He said the emigration of thousands of young people was not a brain drain, “it’s an expulsion of our youngest and brightest”.
Independent TD Clare Daly said, “If you were wealthy this morning, you’re actually going to be even wealthier going to bed tonight.”
The Dublin North TD said the Government could “dress it up all you like that this is a battle to get our economy back on the road...that actually isn’t true”.
She claimed “social policy has been stood on its head and your Government has embarked on the path of neo-liberal capitalism, of eroding public services, driving down wages and living conditions - and no wonder the EU establishment is proud of you”.
Ms Daly said they might have expected it of Fine Gael, but not of Labour, in the 100th anniversary year of the Lockout.
She described as “absolute lunacy” the decision to remove the mortgage interest supplement when so many families were about to lose their homes.
Tipperary South Independent TD Seamus Healy said the Government had “robbed the clothes of Fianna Fáil and the Greens and you’ve cynically and deliberately reneged on” pre-election promises.
He said €9 billion would be paid out next year to service the debt on borrowed money to bail out rich investors, but somebody had to pay. “Why must it always be low and middle income [workers who] have to pay?” he asked.
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly said it was an “absolute disgrace” that neither the Minister for Finance nor the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform were in the Dáil to hear the views of TDs, and that they had left while Fianna Fáil TDs were giving their response.
He also believed the analysis would show that those who had less to give would have to pay more, as he claimed had happened in the last two budgets.
The question was: “Is this budget fair and will this budget kick-start the social and economic recovery necessary?”
The Wicklow TD said the last two budgets had taken more from the less well-off and that despite repeated requests for an equality analysis of budget proposals, the Government had failed to provide them.