Opposition condemn Budget 'sting'
The draconian €6bn budget comes from a puppet Government under the thumb of the International Monetary Fund and Europe, it was claimed tonight.
Opposition parties rounded on the Government over the massive cost-cutting package, with Fine Gael claiming it was a fitting tribute to a failed administration.
The Labour Party branded it the last sting of a dying wasp while Sinn Fein went a step further, claiming it amounted to economic treason.
Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan said the programme was unveiled to draw down the €85bn international bail-out, and he called for a new Ireland with a reformed political system.
"The Government's policies have wrecked the economy, they have destroyed the confidence of the people, they have put 450,000 people out of work, they have forced over 100,000 of our adult children to emigrate, they have increased poverty and they have undermined any concept of social justice in our society," Mr Noonan said.
The veteran TD said the slash-and-burn policies of the Government to tackle the crippling economy had failed to create jobs.
He said there had not been a single progressive idea to boost jobs.
And he said Ireland had become insolvent as a direct result of the state's banking policies.
"I wonder do members of the Government ever feel ashamed?" he asked in the Dail.
Mr Noonan said he felt ashamed to read the letters from the Government to the IMF and European Central Bank over the bail-out.
"If it wasn't so serious it would be kind of funny, because when you read the letters they sound like confessions beaten out of you. It's like as if they water-boarded you in Merrion Street and made you sign the letters," he said.
The Ireland of former Taioseach Bertie Ahern was "dead and gone" and he called for a changed Ireland with a reformed political system.
"We need a new Ireland, a lean and more generous Ireland," he said.
He concluded by quoting Michael Collins with a rousing round of applause from Fine Gael benches.
Labour Party Finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said the budget represented the last sting of a dying wasp.
"But it's a pretty vicious sting and one that carries a long tail life, not just for today, but for the next four years," she said.
"The people who will feel the biggest sting will be people with children."
Ms Burton said the winners from the budget were the banks, while a family with three children would lose €40 a month in child benefit.
She claimed there was nothing in the budget to get credit flowing for small and medium businesses.
"Of all the catchphrases and soundbites that come from this set of dejected Ministers nothing grates more than the sound of the two Brians repeating we're all in this together as their mantra," she said.
"Well I have news for them. Nothing in this Budget offers a shred of evidence that they really believe this themselves. In fact every line of the Budget suggests the exact opposite."
Sinn Fein said the Budget was a disgrace, branding it economic treason.
Newly elected finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said it was a full frontal attack on the lowest income earners and the unemployed.
And he said it amounted to a recipe for economic suicide.
"It is times like this when you have to think, what would the founders of this state think about what has gone on earlier today in this chamber.
"What would people who struggled into being, the people who gave their lives, the people who laboured to bring the Dail into being, to bring the dream of the (1916) proclamation into being ... I'm sure that they would be ashamed by what has gone on in this chamber today."