Wednesday 23 October 2019

'Budget for voters' accusations as Fianna Fáil claims ownership

Claim: Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman. Photo: Collins
Claim: Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman. Photo: Collins
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Leinster House was on an election footing last night as opposition figures suspected the Government was trying to curry favour with voters.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was also accused of failing to address the housing crisis.

Fianna Fáil made moves to claim a number of Budget wins, saying it forced the Government's hand on key issues as part of its confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael.

Sinn Féin said measures aimed to address the housing crisis lacked ambition, while Labour TD Joan Burton compared Mr Donohoe to his predecessor in the Celtic Tiger years, Charlie McCreevy.

"If it looks like an election budget, if it sings like an election budget, if Leo's choir cheers it like an election budget, well then it is an election budget," she said.

"It was Minister Paschal Donohoe who was delivering the speech but it is the voice of my former college classmate, Charlie McCreevy, that came through as if we were back to the grand old days that we had foolishly thought to be banished forever. Budget prudence goes out the window when there is an election in the air."

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, said his party could claim ownership of a number of measures.

He claimed the party secured a €300m affordable housing package over the next three years, while blasting Fine Gael's record on housing.

"Under this Government's watch, home ownership has become a distant dream for more and more of our people," Mr McGrath said.

"Home ownership is falling rapidly under Fine Gael. Fianna Fáil makes no apologies for insisting on a major focus on affordable housing in this Budget."

The party's public expenditure spokesman, Barry Cowen, said Fianna Fáil facilitated three budgets for the good of the Government. It is now expected to enter negotiations with Fine Gael about extending the Confidence and Supply arrangement.

"Other parties have been content to sit on their hands. In Brendan Behan's words, they're 'like eunuchs in a brothel; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves'," Mr Cowen said.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the Budget did not do enough to address the housing crisis and "is starved of ambition". He said: "This is now a social tragedy of historic proportions for which you, and your Government, will forever be blamed."

Irish Independent

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