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Friday 23 February 2018

Hanafin forced to make U-turn over spending

Michael Brennan and Aine Kerr

TOURISM Minister Mary Hanafin has been forced into a U-turn after initially refusing to come up with recommendations for spending cuts in her department.

Just two weeks ago, Ms Hanafin boldly claimed she had not submitted any proposed cutbacks to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, despite a direct request from him to all cabinet ministers to do so.

But a spokesman for Mr Lenihan said that progress was now being made in relation to the provision of spending cut recommendations by Ms Hanafin.

"That situation is evolving. I don't think the Department (of Finance) are as unhappy as they were," he said.

It is understood that Ms Hanafin will now provide details of where her department's overall budget could be reduced.

The new documentation will be taken into account by Mr Lenihan as part of his attempt to save €3bn from a mixture of spending cuts and taxes in the forthcoming budget.

However, there is no suggestion that there is any personal animosity between the two ministers, with a government source saying it was all part of the standard cut-and-thrust of the budgetary process.

A spokeswoman for Ms Hanafin also said reports that Ms Hanafin had been criticised at last week's cabinet meeting by Mr Lenihan for not providing spending cut recommendations were untrue.


Mr Lenihan had given all his colleagues a four-week deadline to submit the cutback recommendations at a cabinet meeting on May 11.

On failing to meet the deadline, Ms Hanafin had argued that her department had to be looked at differently due to the economic value of the 200,000 people employed in the tourism industry alone.

Irish Independent

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