Dáil debates

Friday, 10 December 2010

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2010: Second Stage (Resumed)

 

10:30 am

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister, Department of Finance; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)

In responding to the debate, it is important to be very clear about the background to the measures in this Bill.

The preamble and recitals to the Bill outline the seriousness of the problems Ireland faces. The economic pressures of the last two years, coupled with the turmoil in the financial sector, have produced a significant deterioration in the Government's budgetary position which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. In a more fundamental sense and irrespective of who forms the next Government, there is no point in deluding ourselves about what must be done to ensure that Ireland emerges from this crisis. The future economic and social well-being of the country is at stake and the Government has acted, must act and will act decisively. We have to accept there are no easy options, although many like to give the impression that they can think of painless alternatives. A responsible Government does not have time to play games of this kind. I can assure the House that this Government has never been under any illusion about the scale of the problem and the very difficult decisions which must be made. We must stabilise the economy and the banking system and then bring forward the measures which will restore Ireland's economic health. This is what we have done in the plan for economic recovery and that is the cornerstone of the development of this country in the next four years. Any Government that is formed in the next year will depart from it at its peril in terms of the growth prospects for this country. The Government is determined to steer the country through these difficult problems and will do so by implementing the economic and budgetary policies required to put Ireland firmly on course to recovery.

Understandably, the reduction in the national minimum wage for new entrants to the labour market has caused much comment in this debate. Ireland has the second-highest national minimum wage rate in the EU.

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