News Fionnan Sheahan

Sunday 21 September 2014

Back to the business of the Budget after Seanad diversion

Published 08/10/2013 | 05:00

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SEANAD? What Seanad? After the humiliating defeat in the referendum, the spotlight will swiftly shift on to next week's Budget.

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The Cabinet will discuss how to proceed with looking at Seanad reform this morning and kick it into some talking shop.

In the afternoon, there'll be a row in the Dail about the referendum and what happens next.

Over in the Seanad, the senators will be busy talking about their favourite subject – themselves. There'll be congratulations for the reformists and recriminations for the abolitionists.

And then the Seanad will return to its normal obscurity after its 15 seconds of fame.

The Seanad won't even be the main item on the agenda when ministers gather in Government Buildings this morning.

Budget 2014 negotiations will be the primary concern for ministers, just like the rest of the country.

On the magnificent table (made of Irish burr walnut and European walnut with ebony stringing, by the way) in the Cabinet Room today will be real issues affecting the real lives of real people.

Cuts, taxes, job creation social welfare payments, health services, hospital waiting lists, disability services, tackling crime, school funding, infrastructure are just some of the items that will be affected by Budget 2014.

The Coalition has found a typically Irish solution to Fine Gael's desire to reassure the markets and the Labour Party's demands for a lower level of austerity.

The package of cuts and taxes has been reduced to close to €2.5bn from the original €3.1bn, with the shortfall being made up from a variety of alternate sources.

But sources close to the Budget negotiations say the "battle lines have been drawn" over who benefits from the extra funding.

FG is adamant the extra funds must go towards job creation and not just allowing Joan Burton to duck out of cuts in social welfare.

Although the threats of walking out of Government from last year are not being repeated, there is definitely not harmony within the Coalition over Budget 2014.

Irish Independent

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