Monday 24 October 2016

Tanaiste Joan Burton admits Labour had been prepared for a November General Election

Eoghan MacConnell

Published 15/10/2015 | 22:05

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton has admitted that Labour had been prepared for a November General Election.

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The Tanaiste had said only last week that it would be 2016 before voters go to the polls.

She had insisted that she was "not a quitter" and wanted "to stay the course" in Government until 2016.

But today, flanked by Labour TD Willie Penrose at the Mullingar Chamber of Commerce Dinner in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ms Burton admitted Labour had been prepared for a November General Election.

"We were absolutely ready because as Willie will tell you, we had all our poster preparation and everything like that with our paper presses ready to roll whenever the date was called," she revealed.

The Tanaiste said she was "very pleased" with the budget but admitted more need to be done to address unemployment.

In relation to housing, she said, "there are of course ongoing discussions on a weekly basis." She noted emergency modular housing plans are well advanced and pointed to the €17 million allocated to emergency housing for the Christmas period.

According to Ms Burton, "the critical thing is that we identify, and having identified them, we remove any roadblocks in terms of getting the building and any social housing commenced as soon as possible," she said.

"In the context of the Finance Bill I anticipate that there will be measures for instance to give greater support to landlords who are involved for instance, in renting houses through rent supplement or through local authorities on the RAS or the housing assistance payment," she remarked.

Ms Burton said "we have also set up a new system of assisting people who have difficulty with their rent allowance where we are working directly through the community welfare service."

Turning to the controversy surrounding the web summit, Ms Burton said, "I am disappointed. I certainly attended myself a number of the fringe events at the web summit.

I understand that discussions between the two parties weren't successful, but I certainly would hope that perhaps in the future it would return to Dublin because it was certainly a very lively event and the people I met attending it were very impressed with Ireland," she added.

Ms Burton denied the Government was at loggerheads over measures to tackle the housing crisis yesterday.

When asked if the coalition partners were at odds on rent certainty, Ms Burton replied, "no, it is like every other issue in relation to the budget, there is quite an amount of detailed discussion."

"There is a wide measure of agreement between the two parties but the budget wasn't primarily about housing. The budget was obviously about a whole range of measures."

Ms Burton said "what we want to do is ensure that people who are renting, that they are able to have confidence in the arrangements that they have with the landlord, so that the landlord won't suddenly arrive and in effect, they could lose their rental property in an environment where it is difficult to get another one."

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