Saturday 17 February 2018

FF reaction: Fianna Fail backbench supports 'tough but fair' cuts

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail TDs last night said the €6bn Budget was "tough" -- but insisted they were expecting a lot worse.

And despite some wobbles over welfare cuts in the past few weeks, all party TDs voted with the Government.

Numerous backbenchers said a lot of the measures in Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's final Budget had been flagged well in advance through the four-year plan and media leaks.

They said they were braced for a lot worse and most agreed the package was necessary.

There was no great concern among TDs that the Budget contained any single measure that would cause public outrage.

"It was flagged well in advance," Dublin South-Central's Sean Ardagh said.

"The only thing we didn't know about was the reduction of stamp duty to 1pc, and that is a bit of a relief."

Others welcomed the fact that high earners and public sector and semi-state bosses, as well as the judiciary, would see their salaries reduced.

"We are doing what we should have done years ago, instead of taking medical cards away from pensioners," Limerick TD Niall Collins said.


Rebel TDs John McGuinness and Noel O'Flynn, who have both called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to resign, also said they expected worse.

"I am glad the pensioners haven't been touched, I was particularly concerned about that," Mr O'Flynn said.

A number of backbenchers had warned that the State pension should not be touched, partly because pensioners are one of the only remaining groups where support remains strong for Fianna Fail.

"It was very fair," Galway East's Noel Treacy said. "The people at the top were hit, and so were we."

Cork South-Central's Michael McGrath said the Budget was tough and painful but necessary. "It was so well flagged there were no real surprises in it," he added.

He was one of a number of backbenchers who did not clap after Mr Lenihan's Dail speech, but said this was because the measures meant it would not have been apt to do so.

Dublin North's Michael Kennedy welcomed the fact that State pensions had not been touched, and said the reduction in the €10 travel tax would help the tourism industry.

Irish Independent

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