SF deputy leader criticises Government’s planned budget tax breaks
Tánaiste defends tax breaks and says books will be balanced
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of a “sham fight over how best to introduce unaffordable and reckless tax cuts’’ instead of focusing on health and housing. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has strongly criticised the Government’s plans to introduce tax breaks in October’s budget.
She accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of engaging in a “sham fight over how best to introduce unaffordable and reckless tax cuts’’ instead of focusing on health and housing.
She told the Dáil on Thursday “a few measly euro’’ would do precious little to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis ruining so many lives.
“It is very clear that the best way to give low and middle-income workers a break is by building decent public services,’’ Ms McDonald added.
“It is done by investing in the health system, delivering social and affordable homes at a level which matches the scale of the housing emergency and ensuring those with disabilities can access proper and dedicated services.’’
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said there had been a substantial investment by the Government in the development of public services, including in the areas of health, education and housing. That would continue next year, she added.
“There are many challenges, but we have the capital to invest which was not available previously and we will invest it in a prudent way,’’ Ms Fitzgerald added. “We will also balance the books, which is important because we want to be able to continue to substantially increase budgets in the years ahead.’’
The Tánaiste said the Government would continue to invest wisely in capital projects that were needed, in the provision of services, targeted income supports, as well as in supporting the vulnerable and increasing the budget substantially for disability and mental health services.
“We will also continue the process of tax reductions,’’ Ms Fitzgerald added. “There would not be money to spend on services if people were not going out to work.’’
Businesses and families would be helped plan for the future, she added.
Ms McDonald described Ms Fitzgerald’s argument as “flawed and almost perverse’’.
She said people who go out to work and who paid their taxes were also the ones who were casualties of the lack of investment in housing and health, childcare and many other services.
She said the Government would insult tax-paying, working people with €1 or €1.50 a week if it went along with its friends in Fianna Fáil.
Ms Fitzgerald said the budget would be incremental, sustainable and fair because the Government wanted to be fair to those people who were working and to the vulnerable.