Michael Brennan: Promise to 'share the pain' not kept
IN the run-up to the Budget there were lots of promises that politicians would "share the pain". But Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin instead announced minor cuts, such as halving the allocation of free Oireachtas envelopes, the receipting of all constituency office expenses and a 10pc cut to the allowance paid to party leaders and Independent TDs.
Although no figures were provided, a rough calculation suggests these changes could save €3m per year at best.
But there was no reference to how much of a budget would be provided for running the Dail and Seanad.
It turns out that Coalition TDs and senators are going to award themselves an annual average of €108m before they go on their Christmas holidays.
It would be ridiculous to claim that a bigger hit to the Dail and Seanad budgets could have delivered the same savings as the child benefit cut, which is bringing in €140m, and the respite care grant cut that is worth €26m. But providing an annual budget of €108m at a time of economic crisis undermines the Government's claims that the Budget was "tough but fair".
The hedge clippers have been used instead of the chainsaw.