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McGrath tells Fianna Fáil Budget 'won't meet all needs' but will be aimed at 'giving people hope'

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Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath has warned Fianna Fáil colleagues that the Budget "won't meet all needs" but will be aimed at "giving people hope".

He told a private meeting of the parliamentary that the party's policies will be imprinted on the Budget which will have a focus on health and housing.

As TDs made the case for increases to the State pension and increased supports for the self-employed, Mr McGrath cautioned that the deficit is set to be €25bn this year but he said this would have been worse if Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions had been imposed.

The meeting was told that this elevated debt level comes against a backdrop of the risk that Covid-19 will be present throughout all of 2021 as well as the threat of a no-trade-deal Brexit.

Sources said Mr McGrath outlined Fianna Fáil's priorities as investing in health, housing and education and providing supports for people worst affected by the pandemic

Mr McGrath warned that the Budget "won't meet all needs" but spoke of "giving people hope there is a way out of this."

He said he wants to establish a recovery fund so the Government can respond to the uncertainty facing businesses and singled out tourism, hospitality and aviation as key sectors he wants to support.

The meeting also heard contributions from backbench TDs.

Dún Laoghaire's Cormac Devlin proposed a €5-a-week increase in the State pension to help older people with Covid-19 costs like hand sanitisers and masks as well as heating bills.

Paul McAuliffe of Dublin North-West wanted help in the Budget for 'man with the van' self-employed tradespeople and taxi drivers.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin emphasised health, housing disabilities and education in his contribution on the Budget as well as raising concern about youth unemployment.

He also spoke about the spread of Covid-19 in the North and said the Northern Ireland Executive needs to get "financial firepower from London".

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