Thursday, 15 October 2020
Financial Resolutions 2020 - Financial Resolution No. 7: General (Resumed)
Jim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
I am pleased with the content of the budget. I commend the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, and, in particular, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, on the excellent work they did in presenting the budget. As a Fianna Fáil Deputy it was a great honour for me to see the Minister, Deputy McGrath, present what was a very expansionist budget. It is what the country requires at this time. We are going through a period of significant economic turbulence and uncertainty. The appropriate way to respond to that economically is through borrowing. I thank and commend the Minister, Deputy McGrath, on his contribution to that budgetary policy that I believe everyone in this House recognises is correct.
It is important to point out that the budget does provide supports for businesses, companies and individuals who are experiencing significant financial distress as a result of this extraordinary pandemic going through all of our lives. It is important to also point out that Government can control issues pertaining to economics and financial responses to these events but it cannot provide a response to every issue. As politicians, and as a House, we need to recognise our limitations, particularly when it comes to naturally occurring events. If a hurricane or a major weather event occurs, all we can do is try to put in place measures to protect citizens from the severity of that natural weather event. Similarly, when it comes to a pandemic, it is such an unusual event all we can do in terms of trying to protect the public is to try to suppress the impact of the pandemic on the Irish public. We are never, I regret to say, going to be able to control this event, in the same way as we cannot control another natural event such as a hurricane.
I have previously spoken in this House, as far back as 6 May last, about my concern regarding the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions being imposed on young people, in particular people between the age of 16 and 25. I am more concerned today about this. As a political system, we must try to develop some policies to protect young people and to enable them to try to live their lives in as normal a way as possible. It is regrettably the case that the restrictions that we are imposing, and that have to be imposed, are having an extremely negative impact on young people. They have interfered with their education, employment, entertainment, past-times and relationships. As a body, we need to come up with some policies and proposals to protect them.