Fianna Fáil firebrand Willie O'Dea hits back at Fine Gael's 'reckless, spendthrift' Budget claims
Fianna Fáil welfare spokesman, Willie O’Dea, has strongly rejected Fine Gael claims that his party is pushing for “a reckless” or “spendthrift” Budget this autumn.
Mr O’Dea was reacting to reports that Fine Gael has costed Fianna Fáil budgetary demands at some €1.5bn. Fine Gael has warned that the demands of the opposition party, which is underpinning the minority Coalition, could drive the economy back into recession.
But Mr O’Dea said the Fine Gael claims, which have resulted from a secret working group monitoring Fianna Fáil budget demands, are an attempt to return to “a right-wing agenda.”
“I am not going to be deterred by these tactics from continuing to pursue justice for poorer people in this country. Nor will I allow Fine Gael resume their right-wing policies,” Mr O’Dea told Independent.ie.
The veteran Limerick City TD said the last Fianna Fáil-led government had its budgets independently rated as “economically progressive” – despite the acute shortage of funds after economic collapse.
He added that the two budgets, agreed in 2016 and 2017, were rated as “mildly progressive” due to Fianna Fáil’s role insisting on more public spending on welfare and services.
Mr O’Dea is widely credited with forcing the €5 per week welfare increases in the last two budgets. But his party leadership have at times tried to rein in his strident stance during the budget negotiations between the two big parties.
The Fianna Fáil firebrand’s strong response to Fine Gael on this issue again points up how difficult the upcoming budget negotiations will be.
This autumn’s budget is the final in a series of three agreed under the so-called “Confidence and Supply Agreement” unveiled on May 6, 2016.