Seamus Healy TD Financial Resolutions 2015 – Budget Statement 2015 (14 Oct 2014):
“The Irish Constitution commits Irish Governments to safeguard with special care the economic interests of the weaker sections of Irish society. That constitutional provision has been breached every year for the past three years by this Government and is again being breached today. Regressive austerity budgets have given to the rich and powerful in our society and taken from low- and middle-income families across this country. The deprivation rate in Irish society is now 26.9%, up from 11% in 2007. Fr. Peter McVerry said:
I’m absolutely dismayed at idea that the tax cuts are going to be at the top rate of tax. That horrifies me. I really can’t express how outraged I would be at that.
Gerry Kearns, professor of human geography at NUI Maynooth, said:
Ireland needs a poverty strategy. It needs a wealth tax. It needs a social housing programme. It needs a regional policy. It does not need tax cuts for fat cats. The Constitution directs as much and the Minister should pay it more heed.
The 100,000 people on the streets of Dublin last Saturday and the results of the two by-elections in Dublin South-West and Roscommon-South Leitrim have certainly put the frighteners on the Government and have been responsible for whatever minor changes and benefits were delivered in this budget. The water charges will be defeated. People power will defeat these charges. Low- and middle-income families are absolutely opposed to them and are affronted by Irish Water itself. It was set up at a cost of €180 million, with €50 million going to consultants, and the management of Irish Water is now paying itself bonuses. This has to stop, and these charges must be, and indeed will be, reversed.
There is a huge hole in this budget in respect of health expenditure. Again, for the fourth year in a row, this Government has a black hole in the health budget. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will remember his own special adviser, Martin Connor, who said recently that brutal fiscal consolidation in the health services must end. He said that the ongoing financial crisis that is continuing to damage the health system was central to the medical card debacle, long waiting lists, hospital bed closures and disability cutbacks. This year, despite what he has said and despite what we all know, there is another €460 million hole in the health budget. Page 80 of the booklet provided to us refers to a range of savings measures – in other words, cutbacks – to the value of €130 million and income generation measures of €330 million, which represent a black hole of €460 million in the health budget. That means continuing chaos for the health services, hospital services and primary care services. This simply must stop.
As other speakers have said, the attempt at dealing with the housing crisis is a complete sham.
There are 90,000 families on waiting lists, with a maximum of 10,000 homes over four years. In education, there were no reductions in class sizes, reductions in the capitation rate and increases in third level fees. This is a budget for the rich and the powerful, and it will have to be overturned by the people of this country, particularly when it comes to water charges.”