PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has told Labour backbenchers that they need to stick together for the €3.5bn in tax increases and cutbacks in the December Budget.
He gave a private briefing to the parliamentary party to give them a broad outline of the work ongoing in the Budget.
He confirmed – as is already known – that there would be heavy cutbacks in education, health and social welfare.
He was also questioned by Labour backbenchers about the forthcoming property tax.
But according to Labour sources, he did not give specific details of what the Budget would contain.
Mr Howlin's key message was that backbenchers had to stick together for what would be a very tough budget.
Last year, Mr Howlin gave a similar pre-Budget pep talk to backbenchers, but the economic picture he painted was so grim that some emerged "ashen-faced" after the meeting. This time, he was more upbeat about the prospects for the economy next year.
It came after some Labour backbenchers had complained that they were being kept in the dark about the Budget – which is now just two weeks away.