Tuesday, 8 October 2019
Budget 2020: Statements
I welcome the Minister of State to the House. Listening to the debate in the House tonight, it sometimes causes me to wonder, wonder, wonder, if not to tremble, tremble, tremble. In the political cycle of a budget, there are briefings, negotiations and then political posturing, demands and then more demands. Sometimes it is like the song by The Smiths, as the joke is not funny any more after hearing some of the demands from speakers. The chief economist to the Department of Finance just a few minutes ago said that external matters are fairly grim. I wonder if people recognise or understand what this budget is set against. To be fair to Senator Ó Céidigh, an Independent Senator with whom I may clash over politics, he spoke about the unknown and giving credit. As he said, it is easy for many to have a wish list coming to the House but this is about being responsible. Imagine where we would be if we did not have to think about Brexit or be responsible in tackling climate change. It is the 21st century so we should be responsible and look to the future rather than engaging in a short-sighted political cycle and trying to gain a few points in an opinion poll or perhaps getting an extra seat or two in the Dáil or Seanad Éireann.
This is a conservative budget and while perhaps it may not be the budget that many outside of here might want, it is responsible and cast against the shadow of Brexit. It is the great imponderable factor. I spent the weekend at the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, and every person I met spoke about Brexit, migration and climate change. The central plank of this budget is to protect our country and people, na gnáthdaoine, those same people who some of the Members here claim to represent. Eight years ago, the unemployment rate was 16% and today it is 4.2%. People are back at work. I often wonder if people realise that Brexit could drive thousands of our fellow citizens back to the dole queues, leaving them out of work and robbing them of a future and hope.
There were decisions made in the budget to protect the environment because we have a duty and responsibility with regard to climate change. It is about ensuring balanced regional development and that we have jobs and housing for people in the four corners of the country and not just inside the M50. The world does not revolve around Baile Átha Cliath and there is more to life than Dublin, despite what some people may think. In some ways we must also make life easier for families through a variety of measures.
This is a responsible budget. I suppose I am mellowing in my old age but in my 12 years in the Oireachtas-----