Stephen Donnelly thrown ‘under the bus’ in this year’s budget, says Sinn Féin

Budget 2024: Mary Lou McDonald says there is ‘not an additional cent for new hospital beds’

The Government “certainly threw” the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly “under the bus” in this year’s budget, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.

Speaking in reaction to Budget 2024, Ms McDonald said there was “not an additional cent for new hospital beds”.

“The Minister’s [for Health] big promise of 1,500 additional beds was torn up,” she told the Dáil on Wednesday. “Perhaps it was in punishment for the massive cost overruns that now plague the health service.”

The Dublin Central TD said whatever the “internal dynamics” of the Government, it was not “Minister Donnelly who will feel all the pain of this” but instead people waiting to get a hospital appointment or those stuck on trolleys.


Ms McDonald also said that in the Taoiseach’s budget statement in the chamber this afternoon, there wasn’t “one mention” of health in the “very long and very expansive speech”.

The Sinn Féin leader also pointed out that it was 13 years since a Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance introduced a budget, adding “we all know the reason for that hiatus”.

“The party of the Tánaiste Micheál Martin crashed the economy,” she said. “Micheál Martin sat at cabinet when government decimated public finances, drove the housing market off a cliff and scattered our young people to the four corners of the globe in search of work and opportunity.”

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns said the Government had blatantly introduced a budget with more support for landlords than tenants or first-time buyers.

“It is just incredible there is twice as much funding in the budget for landlords than the tenants who are paying record rents,” she said.

Ms Cairns added that the budget was “a clear demonstration” of where the Government’s priorities lay.

Budget 2024: What it means for households and businesses

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Budget 2024 would help put “more money” in the pockets of the most vulnerable and squeezed middle.

Mr Varadkar also hit out at Sinn Féin and said the party had proposed “no less than 19 separate tax increases” in its alternative budget.

“Sinn Féin is a seriously high-tax party, tax increases amounting to almost €3 billion, while the economy is still grappling with a cost of living crisis,” he said.

“Business is hardest hit in their tax plans, but also retirement savings, and not just for the wealthy. Sinn Féin would leave income tax bands unchanged, resulting in income tax rises by stealth, especially for middle-income earners, more and more of whom would pay the 40 per cent tax rate every year.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said while the €450 worth of energy credits would help protect people from the cost of living crisis, “we will have to wean ourselves off all these various different measures” in order to be able to put money into core services such as disability, welfare and education.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times