Budget 'a challenging but positive step'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said today’s budget will be “a challenging but positive step” on a continuing path to economic recovery.
That growth would not happen “unless we continue to understand that we must continue to make the country competitive and attractive to investment from abroad, where opportunities exist for credit to be available here and where people can avail of a facility to create jobs”.
Mr Kenny said people were “striving and winning” throughout the State.
“Some 20,000 jobs have been created in the past 12 months in the private sector, which is an indication of confidence that those people have in putting their money where their mouth is to invest in job opportunities for the good of the country,” he added.
Mr Kenny said the budget would continue the focus on rectifying the public finances and ensuring competitiveness.
“There will be opportunities to create jobs, which are essential and fundamental to the good of the country and the future of hundreds of thousands of young people looking forward to the expectation of a job, if they wish to take it up,” he added.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the whole country knew the Government was sharpening the knives to inflict even more suffering on struggling families, pensioners, students and those depending on the health services.
People also knew from Monday’s events that Ireland’s EU partners were completely unimpressed with the Government’s slavish obedience and willingness to impose such suffering on its own citizens.
“They intend to give us no debt relief whatsoever,” he added.
Mr Boyd Barrett said people were looking into a dark and endless night of austerity and suffering if the Taoiseach continued down a failed path.
Mr Kenny said Ireland was in a very different position than the citizens of Greece.
The Greek government had a target of reaching a debt-to-GDP ratio of 124 per cent by 2024, whereas Ireland expected to exit its programme next year, to retrieve its economic independence and be able to grow the economy.
He added that the Government appreciated the challenges facing people, who approached all public representatives with their genuine concerns and anxieties.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Government-inspired leaks were causing great concern to citizens. It would be an outrage, he added, in the wake of the children’s referendum, if the Government attacked child benefit.
“People want to know why the children of the State should suffer while high earners have their incomes protected,” he added.
He asked the Taoiseach to make it clear and assuage the fears of those citizens that he would not cut child benefit in the budget.
Mr Kenny said some of the speculation had been fuelled by Mr Adams and members of his party making outrageous claims and spinning rumours of this, that and the other.
“Let me assure Deputy Adams that as regards tomorrow’s budget, we have made no secret of the fact that our country faces a challenging time,” he added. “We have never been talking about green shoots or having turned corners.”
Everybody knew, he said, that Ireland faced a challenging period economically.