Kenny rejects fiscal advisory council call for tough budget

Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy says Dáil should explore whether €2bn adjustment necessary

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has dismissed the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council warning on the budget, saying such decisions were in the gift of the Government alone.

Although Mr Kenny made it clear the Coalition would not change course as a result of the council’s intervention, one of his own backbenchers said the body should not be ignored “just because we don’t like what they’re saying”.

Eoghan Murphy, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-East, said the Dáil should explore whether a €2 billion adjustment was necessary as the council had suggested.

Although the Government is planning the budget on the basis there will be no new spending cutbacks and no net tax increase, the council said there should be another tough package to continue repairing public finances.

At the United Nations climate change conference in New York, Mr Kenny said the council’s views were “clear” and “always valued” but added it was a “a matter for the Government to make their own decisions” on Budget 2015.

‘Challenging times’

“Our people have come through very challenging times. Many are still not feeling the effect of the signs of confidence around the country, so what we want to do is sustain the progress that has been made and use the budget for that very purpose,” he said.

“We can make decisions to fortify that progress or make decisions to weaken it. What we want to do is to strengthen the progress made, make it sustainable for the future, grow the economy and create jobs.”

Speaking to The Irish Times earlier, Mr Murphy said it had been "worrying" to hear elected representatives dismiss the council's advice so readily.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to have an open and detailed debate about the choices facing us as we enter the next phase of economic recovery,” he said.

“The fiscal advisory council was set up for a reason: to help separate the budgetary cycle from the political one, protecting our economy from short-termism and populist fiscal policies.”