“The Budget shouldn’t be about just the next general election, it should be about the next generation.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has accused the Taoiseach of putting Fine Gael’s interests ahead of what is best for the country’s finances by planning a Budget giveaway with unaffordable tax cuts.

Deputy Shortall was speaking ahead of taking part in a political discussion at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Co Wexford, today.

She said:

“It is very clear that the Taoiseach is planning tax giveaways in the Budget. These amount to the same kind of cheap political gimmickry that has plunged our economy into boom and bust cycles in the past.

“The Budget shouldn’t be about just the next general election, it should be about the next generation. Already we have seen the Taoiseach promising to cut taxes in the next two Budgets. So about €5 euro a week in the upcoming Budget and another €5 in the next. We have been here before. It’s called auction politics. Two years in the job and this is the best the Taoiseach can do?”

Deputy Shortall added:

“The public are no longer fooled by that. It’s a pretty simple equation – the more we give away in tax cuts, the less we have available to provide services. The clear message from the electorate at the last election was that they wanted services improved. An extra €5 a week is no use to them, if it means they are paying more out for basic public services in health, housing, education, childcare, public transport, home-care etc.

“So let’s not have another election Budget. Let’s have a Budget that actually plans for the long-term interests of the country and provides public services that the public can rely on. “

Deputy Shortall said the Budget 2019 should focus on three priority areas that will have a measurable impact on people’s lives: health, housing and cutting the cost of living.

  1. In health, the Sláintecare reform plan is there. It’s simply about delivering it – something Government after Government have found impossible to do. If we can’t get this right, we will have another lost decade for our health service.
  2. In housing, the Budget must fulfil the long-overdue promise of a new delivery agency. We’ve been calling for one for three years. If we have learned anything from the last decade, it’s that the private sector is incapable of delivering affordable housing. Only the State can do that. As much as low inflation is a central aim of Government, affordable housing needs to be also.
  3. If the Taoiseach wants to “give something back,” then do it through investing in services and supports that will cut the cost of living for all. These include childcare costs, energy bills, and the ridiculously high cost of mortgages and public transport fares.