Republic of Ireland news

Budget 2022 shows Dublin government is ‘out of touch', says Sinn Féin

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe (right) and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath arriving at Government Buildings, Dublin, to unveil the Budget for 2022. Picture by Damien Eagers/PA Wire 
Dominic McGrath and Cate McCurry, PA

Sinn Féin has accused the Dublin government of being “out of ideas” as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe unveiled the Budget for 2022.

This afternoon, Mr Donohoe told the Dáil that the Budget would support families, back businesses and ensure stability in Irish public finances.

Unveiling the Budget for 2022, a package that amounts to €4.7 billion, Mr Donohoe said the government was “conscious” of the cost-of-living pressures on the public and businesses.

But Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, responding to a Budget speech for the 13th time, said the government lacked a vision for solving the crises in housing and healthcare.

Mr Doherty told the government benches in the Dáil that it was “out of touch, out of ideas and out of time”.

“Never has so much been spent to achieve so little.

“Energy prices are spiralling and your plan is to increase them further with carbon taxes.”

He added that housing prices and rents are out of control and said the Budget lacked measures to reassure families.

It should never be normal, he said, that people are paying nearly €2,000 a month in rent in Dublin.

“We heard more of the same,” he said.

“It needed to be a Budget for change.”

He said that social welfare rates should have increased by €10, not the five euro announced by the government today.

He also lambasted the government’s decision to push ahead with the €7.50 increase in carbon tax.

That increase will see a rise in the cost of petrol and diesel from midnight.

He said that it was bizarre to increase the cost of fuel amid a global energy crisis.

“It is a con job,” Mr Doherty told Mr Donohoe.

“The housing policy over the past decade has failed under Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.”

He said that the Government policy serves “landlords and institutional investors”.

Mr Doherty said that the overall housing budget announced on Tuesday was “hugely disappointing”.

Earlier, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said that a total of €2.5 billion in direct state funding would be made available for housing.

Mr Doherty also criticised what he called a “sneaky little policy” announced by Mr Donohoe – the introduction of a 3% zoned land tax with a two-year lead-in time for land zoned before January 2022 and a three-year lead-in time for land zoned after January 2022.

Mr Doherty said such a policy was inadequate.

“Do you not get the urgency here?” he asked the government.

In the vast array of measures announced today, the tovernment said that there were good days ahead for the Republic.

“I am an optimist by nature,” the finance minister said today.

Mr McGrath also said that the government would provide €7 billion in Covid-19 funding.

The minister told the Dáil chamber: “This funding will be made available as required to continue our fight against the pandemic.

“It will fund public health measures, in particular the continuation of our testing and tracing capacity, and our vaccination booster campaign.”

Sinn Féin did praise some of the measures announced by the government, including a new measure that will see young people, aged between 19 and 23, be able to use public transport with a 50% discount on fares.

But Mr Doherty said that it was clear that the government had been inspired by some of his party’s own proposals.

Earlier, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the government was giving out “nothing more than crumbs”.

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