Taoiseach insists budget shows courage
Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the budget as Sinn Féin moved a motion of no confidence in the Government.
Mr Kenny said the budget was not about Fine Gael or Labour. “It is about Ireland and its people.’’
He added that it was about the Government having the conviction and the courage “to clean up the most inordinate mess left behind by the most incompetent, out of touch, arrogant government of the past 50 years’’.
The Government would do that, taking into account the circumstances in which many people found themselves.
“People all over the country say to me that they know difficult decisions must be made in the interest of our people.’’
Earlier the House was adjourned for 10 minutes following heated exchanges between Mr Kenny and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
Mr Adams said cutting the respite grant was bad economics because the State would have to pay for the care of people if families did not do so.
“If the Taoiseach does not get this – sitting there with a row of millionaires beside him – it is because he is taking home €200,000 a year.’’
Mr Kenny accused Mr Adams of making a disgraceful comment about Ministers. “I assure the Deputy that none of these people was funded by the Northern Bank or by the assets of the Northern Bank.’’
Mr Adams replied: “I never thought the Taoiseach would make me laugh on this day, but his stupid remark about the Northern Bank, in response to a serious question, made me laugh.’’
He accused Mr Kenny of kowtowing “to your masters in Europe, the big bankers and the golden circles’’ who created the current economic difficulties.
“You have made the easy choice to tackle the people who are not organised, who are vulnerable and on the margins.’’
Mr Kenny said he would love the Sinn Féin leader to “speak the truth about some elements of your past’’.
When an angry Mr Adams protested about the remark, Mr Kenny said: “Perhaps you might some day, some day, tell the truth about the tragedy and about the remorse ... and about the compassion that should have been shown to Jean McConville.’’
Ms McConville was one of the so-called “disappeared’’.
Mr Adams said a charge had been made by Mr Kenny and it was up to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett to defend his right to ask questions of the Taoiseach. “I want the Taoiseach to withdraw that remark.’’
Mr Barrett said withdrawing the remark was a matter for the Taoiseach, and he could not force anybody to withdraw a charge.
As the row continued, Mr Barrett adjourned the House. When Mr Adams raised the matter later, Mr Barrett said he would study the official record of the exchanges.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the respite grant had been cut for 77,000 people. “It is a slap in the face to these individuals and it undermines their value in society.’’
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said Fine Gael and Labour had betrayed election promises.
No confidence motion
Moving the Sinn Féin no confidence motion, which will be voted on tonight, Pearse Doherty TD said the budget attacked carers, the sick, older people, children and families.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (SF) said the budget had shredded whatever confidence there was in the Government among the mass of people in the State.