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Threat of no-deal Brexit dominates run-up to budget

Inside Politics: Paschal Donohoe does not plan on any supplementary or emergency budgets, sources say

Good morning,

With less than two weeks to go before the budget, it’s fair to say the build-up this year has featured significantly less speculation (or kite-flying, as the cynical among us call it) than normal.

This, of course, can be squarely attributed to the all-pervading and seemingly permanent presence of Brexit. Every decision that is made must be rubber-stamped in the shadow of a no-deal exit, bearing in mind the far-reaching consequences this will have for the Irish economy.

So it’s not surprising that before Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has even risen to his feet in the Dáil on October 8th, some have an eye on what might happen afterward when the worst does (or does not) happen.


At the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night, Mr Donohoe gave TDs an update on budget preparations. Sources say the upshot of his contribution was he does not plan on needing any supplementary or emergency budgets.

The Minister is understood to have said he is confident the Government can steer the country through a disorderly Brexit with the planned budget.

He told party members he did not want to do what previous administrations did by imposing harsh emergency budgets.

We can only assume he was referring, perhaps, to Brian Lenihan’s infamous April 2009 budget, Fianna Fáil’s second budget in six months at the time. Lenihan announced measures to raise €1.8bn in taxes and cut spending by €1.5bn.

One party member present last night said: “Paschal was emphasising that there would be no give-aways. He wants to be very cautious.”

Another said: “he doesn’t want to go down the road of previous administrations with emergency budgets. He is confident about October’s budget.”

All of this may seem like the usual political high jinks (Fine Gael wanting to look responsible, eternally pointing towards Fianna Fáil’s record in the austerity years), but it is all the more interesting in light of our lead in this morning’s Irish Times.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy has a report detailing fresh warnings from the ESRI about how the Government may need to hold a supplementary budget early in the new year if Brexit delivers a major shock to the Irish economy.

“If the nature of Brexit results in a significant and adverse shock for the domestic economy then a stimulatory budget may be required,” the ESRI said.

So while the Government may desire a situation where no emergency budget is needed, the reality could be very different.

Burke-Kennedy reports: “the think tank said the economy here could contract by up to 1 per cent next year if the UK’s exit process from the EU turns messy, resulting in a disruption to supply chains and further turmoil on financial markets”.

This, he says, is “the most negative reading yet of the short-term consequences of Brexit on Ireland”.

Read the full piece here.

Public services card controversy rumbles on

Last week, the Department of Social Protection published the much-anticipated report from the Data Protection Commission in relation to the public services card.

This morning, commissioner Helen Dixon is due to appear before the Public Accounts Committee.

The aim of the meeting is, ostensibly, to talk about the performance of the commission in 2018, but it seems highly likely proceedings will turn to the matter at hand.

Ms Dixon’s report ruled it was unlawful to require the card for any benefits or services beyond those offered by the Department of Social Protection. It also stated it was illegal for the State to keep data on the over three million people who have the card.

It is fair to say the relationship between the department and the commission has been strained by the events of recent weeks.

In documentation sent to members of the PAC that will be discussed today, the commission’s frustrations are laid bare.

The day before the report was published, the commission told the PAC in a letter the department had, in written correspondence, formally objected to the publication by the commission of a short summary containing details of the eight findings in the report and its recommendations.

“In correspondence, the department has asserted that publication of this material, without its prior agreement, was prejudicial to its interests and, as a matter of law, was not within the commission’s powers.

“Notwithstanding the department’s stated position, the commission has continued to press the department to publish the report.”

The Government has rejected the findings and will appeal the decision once the commission takes enforcement proceedings, expected in the coming weeks. TDs will be hoping to glean further information on the commission’s plans this morning.

Furthermore, Marie O'Halloran has a report here on heated exchanges during a Dáil debate on the PSC last night that saw Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty tell her Fianna Fáil counterpart Willie O'Dea: "I won't take your guff of calling me a liar."

He had accused the Minister of misleading the House and has called for the department’s legal advice to be published or an analysis of it. He claimed it was external advice and not that of the attorney general.

Best Reads

There is big news for the families of those killed in the Stardust nightclub blaze in 1981 as the attorney general has ordered a fresh inquest into the deaths of the 48 victims. Brian Hutton has the story here.

Denis Staunton has this report on the latest astounding developments across the water as Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for unlawfully advising Queen Elizabeth to prorogue parliament.

Miriam Lord writes about a relatively quiet day in the Dáil wherein one backbencher remarks that Brexit is like "being 8½ months pregnant for the last three years".

Suzanne Lynch has the latest on the impeachment attempts against US president Donald Trump.

And here's Conor Lally on the new Garda reform plans.



Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe takes parliamentary questions at 10:30.

Leader’s Questions take place at noon followed by questions on promised legislation at 12:32.

At 14.25, Government business will be taken with the Finance (Tax Appeals and Prospectus Regulation) Bill 2019, which provides for the appointment of a chairperson of the Tax Appeals Commission.

After this, the Criminal Records (Exchange of Information) Bill 2019 will go through its second stage.

And at 17.15, topical issues are up.

A committee report on relationships and sexuality education will be considered shortly after 6pm.

The Dáil adjourns at 20.03.


Commencement matters are up at 10:30 followed by the order of business at 11:30 and then a motion on the Legal Services Regulatory Authority.

Following this there will be statements on housing at 12:45.


As mentioned, the Public Accounts Committee meets at 9.00.

The Oireachtas Committee of Housing meets at 9.30 to discuss the reclassification and future output of approved housing bodies.

At 10.00 the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection will consider a pre-budget submission with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

At noon the Select Committee on Budgetary Oversight will launch its final pre-budget report.

The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement will also hold a meeting at 14:15 with representatives of the Integrated Education Fund and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education.