Business Irish

Saturday 20 September 2014

Minister Noonan: 'I'm the only one in Ireland swimming on prescription'

But Minister says there will be no giveaway budget and tax cuts on cards

Ailish O'Hora & Barry Duggan

Published 03/09/2014 | 10:45

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Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan said today that he is recovering well from cancer and joked that he was “the only one in Ireland who is swimming on a prescription.”

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He added that his doctor, the former Olympic swimmer Gary O'Toole, had prescribed swimming rather than physio to restore muscle following his cancer treatment earlier this year.

Minister Noonan was diagnosed with a sarcoma on his right arm last February.

"The operation took away some muscle and I was swimming right through August," he said adding that he will have regular check-ups from now on. 

Mr Noonan was speaking to RTE's Sean O'Rourke this morning on the the day after Exchequer returns showed a surge in tax revenues, raising hopes of a giveaway budget 2015.

And he warned that any tax cuts would have to be paid for by hikes elsewhere in the economy.

“I don’t think I’ll have to increase taxes very much in the budget. Brendan Howlin won’t have to cut expenditure much further.

“But if we are going to give additional relief beyond the adjustment that we are making that might require extra taxes.”

The tax-take was €440m more than anticipated last month alone while other recent economic indicators like employment and manufacturing showing positive results.

“There is a lot of success now but the success is directly due to the programmes followed of the last three years.

“The success now is not an accident of nature or an act of God. It is a direct consequences of the policies pursued and they were the right policies,” he said on RTE radio.

Read more: 'No more cuts' - Budget warnings from Health and Education ministers 

Mr Noonan said that while there will be some tax breaks in Budget 2015, there will have to be other tax hikes to pay for them.

Read more: Social welfare cuts won't be reversed - Joan Burton 

“I don’t think I’ll have to increase taxes very much in the budget. Brendan Howlin won’t have to cut expenditure much further.

“But if we are going to give additional relief beyond the adjustment that we are making that might require extra taxes.”

And he added that would be no more boom/bust budgets on his watch.

Read more: Noonan eyes Brussels talks to seek deal on IMF loans 

He suggested that at Budget 2015 he would highlight economic plans for up to four years later giving families the opportunity to also make plans.

"We don't want to put the recovery at risk," he said.

"But we do have priorities like those on middle and low incomes and emigrants.

Budget day is October 14.

Mr Noonan said middle income people can expect the first breaks in the budget.

“In the agreement when the government was reformed between the two parties, the position is that one of the priorities is middle income people and then low income rate people.”

Mr Noonan defined middle income earners as those making above €32,800 who are in the higher tax bracket.

Mr Noonan said his recovery from a cancer scare is fine.

“I am fit and well again. I was with my consultant in St Luke's last week. He told me all my scans are clear, there is no incidents of cancer anywhere else in my system.

“The operation which Gary O’Toole (a former Olympic swimmer) did took away some muscle from my shoulder.

“Gary O’Toole prescribed swimming as the exercise rather than physiotherapy. I have been swimming right through August and got a lot of the mobility back. I got it all back actually.

“I am the only one in Ireland who is swimming under prescription.”

He added that he intends to allow his name go forward for the next General Election – which Fine Gael hope won’t happen until Spring 2016.

"We want to bring them home so they can play a role in recovery," he added.

He also said the Government is considering a stock market floatation for state-owned Allied Irish Banks.

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