Coalition looks to bailout exit as Ministers defend tough budget
Senior figures from both parties believe budget is turning point for Government
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore both said this would be the last in the series of tough budgets since 2008. Photograph: Eric Luke
TDs in both Coalition parties have expressed relief at the public reaction to the budget.
Senior figures from both parties believe the budget marks the turning point in the lifetime of the Coalition, with austerity and high unemployment about to give way to growth and jobs.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore both said this would be the last in the series of tough budgets since 2008.
Ministers believe that the symbolic exit from the EU-IMF bailout programme on December 15th will reinforce the point that the economy is recovering.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte described it as a “hopeful budget” despite the range of tough measures it contained.
“The first half of the lifetime of this Government was about pulling the country back from the brink and restoring stability.
The second half of the lifetime of the Government is building on that stability, bringing about recovery and above all putting people back to work,” said Mr Rabbitte.
That mood was reflected at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party last night, at which Minister for Finance Michael Noonan responded to detailed questions from TDs and Senators about the content of the budget.
Party chairman Charlie Flanagan said that TDs and Senators had given a general welcome to what they regarded as a budget for jobs and growth, notwithstanding the fact that reservations had been expressed about reducing the deficit target from €3.1 billion to €2.5 billion.
“There was a lengthy discussion on medical cards which we accept is a difficult area. The message from the party to the HSE is that guidelines need to be clear and known.”
Longford Westmeath TD James Bannon raised the ending of the telephone allowance for the elderly and asked for it to be reversed in the Social Welfare Bill.