Budget 2022 is a reflection of the Government that delivered it, "out of touch, out of ideas and out of time", according to Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty. He said that "never has so much been spent to achieve so little; no answers, no urgency and no leadership".
The Donegal TD highlighted lack of housing, the rental crisis, hospital waiting lists, fuel-price increases and the rise in the cost of living, and claimed that the Government had failed to properly address any of the issues.
Hitting out at the increase in carbon taxes, Mr Doherty said it was a “con job” because it would “not provide a single alternative fuel source or means of travel for already hard-pressed families”.
Labour finance spokesman Ged Nash said Budget 2022 was “anaemic” and “directionless” and that nothing short of a “new deal for a fairer Ireland” was required. But instead of a new deal the Government was “tinkering around the edges” with a “few euro thinly spread here and there”.
The were responding with other opposition TDs to the budget speeches of Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath.
Speaking on behalf of Sinn Féin, Mr Doherty said it should have been “a budget with vision, a budget that was targeted, a budget for change”.
“We should have heard a Minister stand up today and say to renters, couples setting out to purchase their first home, parents struggling with the cost of childcare and families struggling with the cost of energy prices, ‘we hear you and we are responding back’.
“However, that is not what we heard today and instead we heard more of the same.”
He also claimed that there was only €60 million in redress for homeowners affected by the mica and pyrite controversies and nothing for fire-safety defects.
Mr McGrath said an enhanced scheme would be announced in the coming weeks but Mr Doherty said that in the budget documents, and not announced in the Minister’s speech, an extra €20 million was allocated next year for the thousands of homes affected by defective building blocks containing mica which he said “is an insult and you need to rectify that very, very quickly”. He said there should have been a €200 million increase to allow 100 per cent redress to affected families.
Mr Nash described the Government’s financial plan for next year as “a budget by committee”. The Labour TD said “It is incoherent. There is no single over-arching theme, no ambition, no real vision, no real unifying purpose”.
Confirming Labour’s intention to vote against the budget, Mr Nash said it would not “fully tackle the soaring costs of living for workers and those on low incomes. It takes us no closer to the creation of a single tier Irish national health service”.
“We are still as far away from free education and a public childcare system as we were yesterday. It moves us only gingerly to a real national retrofitting effort for our homes and to a real just transition for workers.” He believed the housing pledges would do little to fix the crisis “in the here and now”.
The Louth TD added that “tomorrow, rents will still rise. Waiting lists will grow. Our carbon emissions will not fall quickly enough and the gap between the minimum wage and a real living wage of €12.90 will only widen”, following the 30c increase in the minimum wage to €10.50.
The party’s health spokeswoman and new TD Ivana Bacik welcomed positive elements in the budget but said it lacked a “grand vision”. She said “the tax cuts announced today could have been invested in real and radical change in public services”.
Social democrats joint leader Róisín Shortall described the budget as “full of smoke and mirrors” with minor changes but no substantive differences.
Peeling away the “bluster, spin and recycled promises” and looking at the fine print of the budget showed the attempt to bill it as an effort to tackle the cost of living crisis is “entirely threadbare”.
On social welfare increases, she said the Government had forgotten those on the disability allowance.
She said people with disabilities “consistently have among the highest poverty rates of any group in Ireland, three times that of the general population”, adding that Ireland’s spend on disability was the second lowest in the EU at 0.8 per cent of GDP compared to the 2 per cent average across the EU.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett described the budget as “hopelessly inadequate” and “pathetic for the most part”.
He said the Government had decided to unload the cost of the pandemic on ordinary working people “rather than ask the very wealthy and corporations who did extremely well during the pandemic”.
He said it was “mind-boggling” that there was €17 billion going in tax breaks to the big corporations. He said there was one tax break only available to those on incomes above €75,000 and up to millions of euro.
And he excoriated the Green Party who are “going to save the climate” with less money for forestry this year than last year - €96 million compared to €99 million. He said “our level of afforestation to address the climate crisis is abysmal”.