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Sunday 4 December 2016

Michael D: Loosen purse strings for health and houses

President says public not angry at striking bus drivers

Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30

President Michael D Higgins. Picture: Frank McGrath
President Michael D Higgins. Picture: Frank McGrath

The Government should loosen the purse strings and borrow cheap money to fund public services, such as housing and health, President Michael D Higgins has suggested.

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In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Higgins questions the need to hold off on public spending when the cost of borrowing is so cheap.

He says sticking to rigid EU fiscal rules should not take precedence over social services.

"How can one say that any of these rather technocratic instrumental issues, such as methods of calculating where you are in the stability mechanism, should take precedence over social purpose?" he says.

The President will face criticism for straying into matters of Government policy.

His comments ahead of next month's Budget are in contrast to Finance Minister Michael Noonan's insistence on obeying EU spending rules.

The President says providing housing, health and education are not "wild Bolshevik ideas".

Mr Higgins also said the public's response to the Dublin Bus strike was "ethical and sophisticated" and there was no "short-term anger" from commuters.

Irish Independent

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