Leading off for opposition in the Seanad today, I discussed the Budget the Government produced yesterday. Stephen Donnelly correctly described the budget as politically strong but economically weak this morning on Morning Ireland. In essence this budget is the first shot by the Government of the next General Election.
Senator Mark Daly: Yesterday the Minister for Finance promised something for everyone in the budget and he certainly delivered in that regard. He ensured pain for the poor, more cuts for the squeezed middle and more fear for the elderly. Deputy Donnelly in an interview on “Morning Ireland” this morning said that the Government has introduced a politically strong but economically weak budget and he was right.
Senator Pat O’Neill: Who said that?
Senator Mark Daly: An article in the Daily Mail today made reference to buying an election and that is what this Government is doing. All of the commentators are saying that the Government is buying votes with borrowed money.
Senator Paul Coghlan: That is not what all of the commentators are saying.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Please allow Senator Daly to speak. Members will have their opportunity to respond.
Senator Mark Daly: It is buying votes with borrowed money and that is a fact. The Government is also helping what could be seen as Fine Gael core voters, but not Labour Party core voters. Those who are earning €70,000 per annum are four times better off in cash terms than those earning the minimum wage although I am sure the Labour Party would like to see the latter group voting for them in the next general election.
Senator Pat O’Neill: Who are the Fianna Fáil core voters? I ask Senator Daly to define them for us.
Senator Mark Daly: Those earning €17,500 will be worse off than those earning €70,000 and that is before we take water charges into account.
Senator Pat O’Neill: There are not many Fianna Fáil core voters left.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Does Senator Daly have a question for the Leader?
Senator Mark Daly: Before Government Senators get too excited about the budget they should wait until they go home.
Senator Maurice Cummins: We will be welcomed home.
Senator Mark Daly: When they arrive back in their constituencies they will meet those people who will be worse off.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?
Senator Mark Daly: I would like the Leader to organise a debate on what was not in the budget. The promise to get rid of prescription charged was not kept in the budget.
Senator Paul Coghlan: There was no promise.
Senator Mark Daly: We are all looking for the pen Deputy Ruairí Quinn used to sign the piece of paper that said he would abolish college fees.
Senator Pat O’Neill: Old news.
Senator Mark Daly: College fees will be €3,000 next year. The much lauded 1,700 extra teachers are not extra teachers but just keeping up with the growth in pupil numbers. There will be no reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio.
Senator Maurice Cummins: Do we not need extra teachers to do it?
Senator Mark Daly: The Government continues to steal money from private pensions. So far, €2.2 billion has been stolen from private pensions and the theft will continue.
Senator Ivana Bacik: Rubbish.
Senator Pat O’Neill: The Senator had better go back for a briefing.
Senator Mark Daly: I would like a debate on corporate tax policy. The Government has announced it will get rid of what is known as the “double Irish”. Europe is delighted, however the countries that were complaining about our corporate tax policy continue to have the Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. The Dutch have a corporation tax and copyright policy that is the shame of the world. Luxembourg was highlighted last week. Our Government has got rid of the double Irish despite the fact that EU treaties state that every country is entitled to its own corporate tax policy. The Government has introduced this new knowledge development box, subject to EU approval – terms and conditions apply of course. It is talking double Dutch while getting rid of the double Irish.