Three ‘emperors’ of Coalition ‘have no clothes’ – Mary Lou McDonald

SF leader says budget gives ‘no answers to big questions in housing, health, cost of living’

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is ‘gaslighting the nation’, said Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is ‘gaslighting the nation’, said Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Budget 2022 gives “no answers to the big questions in housing, health and the cost of living”, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil on Wednesday.

It was a “do-nothing budget authored by parties that are out of touch and out of ideas”, she said.

As the Government trenchantly criticised her party’s alternative budget, Ms McDonald was equally scathing of the three-party Coalition, saying, “Now we know that all three of the emperors have no clothes.”

Speaking during a Dáil debate on Budget 2022, she claimed the Government is “trying to distract people from its failures with the promise of tax cuts”.

“Never has a government spent so much to achieve so very little. It has no answers, it has no urgency and it has no leadership,” she said.

“Energy prices are out of control, yet the Government has increased carbon taxes further. Rents are out of control and the Government has done nothing.”

The budget “will come and go and nothing will really change for ordinary people. This is a budget of big numbers but with very little substance. It is a budget that throws money left, right and centre but does not solve anything.”

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the budget was so disappointing because during the pandemic the State had shown it could act in a different way.

“People know the State can act when the political will is there, but in this case the political will has failed.”

‘Winter of discontent’

He warned of “a winter of discontent” because of soaring prices and supply chain problems and said the State pension should have risen by €9.19 to keep pace with inflation and not €5, while jobseekers should have got a €7.50 increase.

And he described the health budget as “a masterpiece of distraction”. Pointing to the almost one million people on waiting lists, he said the only solution the Government can agree on “is to outsource patients to the private sector”.

Mr Kelly said this “reinforces prejudices. It reinforces the fact that people can get private care in public hospitals.

“People who have money can get healthcare while those who need it most are sitting at the back of the queue.”

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy claimed Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe “is gaslighting the nation”. Referring to his budget speech when he said “for those worried about whether they can own a home or afford their rent, this budget will support you”, she said it was a “breathtaking statement”.

“We have the most expensive housing in Europe and we keep being told that we cannot build houses overnight,” she said.

“Budget 2022 ignored the obvious and provided more of the same, compounding the failures of past budgets.”

‘Very anti-rural’

Independent TD Michael Collins described the budget as “very anti-rural” as he took a swipe at the carbon tax. He said it was a “simple attack on the people of rural Ireland so that we can buy fleets of buses and beautiful Dart carriages and everything that Dublin needs”.

Rural Ireland “cannot carry Dublin on our back but that’s what’s happening”, he said.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said there was a “deep dishonesty” at the heart of the housing budget. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien could talk about 300,000 houses over the next decade or €20 billion from now to 2025, but the total extra capital spend for housing next year is €309 million. It is “one of the lowest increases in direct capital spend we have seen in the past five years”.