Republic sets Brexit money aside in Budget
The Dublin government has released "a responsible Budget for a modern and caring Ireland" with additional funding for health and housing.
Finance minister Paschal Donohoe announced tax and spending measures including funding for challenges related to Brexit in next year's budget in the Dáil on Tuesday.
Boosted spending on social welfare, housing and income tax reforms were among the key points announced in the one hour and 17 minute speech at Dublin's parliament Dail Eireann.
Mr Donohoe said: "It is a responsible Budget for a modern and caring Ireland that aims to be at the centre of a changing world."
Key points from the Budget included:
- €110 million will be set aside for Brexit-related measures across the government
- The higher rate of income tax will be raised by 750 euros to 35,300 for a single worker
- VAT on the Republic's booming tourism sector will increase to 13.5%, producing an extra €466 million
- An extra five cents on a packet of 20 cigarettes
- Social welfare payments are to rise by €5
- An extra two weeks' paid parental leave
- The health budget increases by €1 billion
- 50 cent reduction in prescription charges for those aged over 70
- An extra €470 million for housing amid what critics claim is a homelessness crisis across the country
- Extra money for rural regeneration
Mr Donohoe added that the government had been thoroughly planning its strategy for the UK's exit from the EU, including protecting "hard-won peace" in Northern Ireland.
An initiative worth €300 million, and a Future Growth Loan Scheme for SMEs and the agriculture and food sector were announced.
A provision of more than €110 million for Brexit measures will be divided across a number of government departments and will see an increase in funding for the Peace programme, which funds community groups on both sides of the border.
"This is responsible; this is sensible; this is consistent with maintaining stability in the public finances," Mr Donohoe said.
"Most importantly this is a caring Budget that recognises the real social needs our citizens face and provides the sustainable funding and effective policies to address them.
"It addresses the risks we face both domestically and on the international front.
"The Budget I have announced today is a progressive budget with an emphasis on strengthening our national finances."