Thursday, 22 September 2022
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
I thank the Deputy. He paints a bleak picture of the country in which we live. One would not think that the United Nations - not me but the United Nations - considers Ireland to be one of the top five or ten countries to live in the world. That is based on health, education and economic well-being. One would think from the remarks of the Deputy that we were seeing a massive outflow of people from our country. In fact, the reverse is the case. The CSO, which the Deputy mentioned earlier, has indicated that the population of Ireland increased by 89,000 last year. That is an extraordinary increase in population. That includes tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war, but that is not the half of it. Many more are coming from the UK, the European Union and other parts of the world to work in this country. Ireland is seen by them as a country in which there are great opportunities for employment and advancement. Those same figures crucially show that more Irish citizens returned to Ireland last year than left. That has been true for a number of years now. The impression the Deputy would create is a different one. People are entitled to their opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts. This is a country that is ranked in the top ten in the world as a place to live. Some 89,000 people have moved to this country this year. More Irish people return to Ireland every year than leave. Those are the facts; the Deputy is welcome to his opinions.
I agree with the Deputy on the cost-of-living crisis. It is something that affects everyone in our society, including people who are young and old, people who are working, pensioners, people in receipt of social welfare payments, people on middle incomes and people in business, who are concerned about the future of their businesses in the years ahead. That is why the Government needs a response that helps everyone. We also need a targeted response that helps those who need the help the most.
As I indicated in my earlier replies, any household budget has three elements, namely, how much the people in the household get paid, whether that be pay from a job, welfare or pension payments; how much they get to keep after taxes and statutory charges; and how far the money goes. It is our objective in this budget to help people on all three fronts. That is what we intend to do. The Deputy will hear the detail of that on Tuesday when the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, make their announcements.