Monday 19 February 2018

Labour chairman won’t rule out voting against the Budget

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

LABOUR Party chairman Colm Keaveney has not ruled out voting against the Budget – after complaining about the attitude of Fine Gael ministers during the tough negotiations.

The Galway East TD has been vocal in his demands for the Budget to contain measures to hit higher earners rather than punish low and middle income families.

He expressed his concerns about expected cuts to child benefit and PRSI changes which could result in low paid workers paying more tax.

Mr Keaveney refused to say whether he would vote for or against the Budget, which is due to be announced at 2.30pm today.

“I'll look at the full package of the Budget, because what we are looking at, we're isolating specific headline figures, and I want to see what is progressive in the Budget and I have to balance that up," he said.

Mr Keaveney also complained on Newstalk’s Breakfast show about the move by Fine Gael ministers to threaten to cut social welfare payments in response to Labour’s demand for a rise in the Universial Social Charge on people earning over €100,000.

"I find it appalling that our Coalition partners would have put, allegedly, the gun to Labour's head on the universal social charge. I'm reading speculation to the effect that it was a quid pro quo vis-à-vis the universal social charge or cuts in social protection,” he said.

Despite Mr Keaveney’s strong statements, he is still expected by his party to vote for the Budget.

But there are doubts in Labour about the position of Clare TD Michael McNamara on the Budget. Labour has lost two backbenchers - Patrick Nulty and Tommy Broughan – and two junior ministers -Willie Penrose and Roisin Shortall –since entering Government last year.

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