Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Budget 2022: Statements (Resumed)


10:30 am

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council described this budget as a prudent path. That is probably what we need to see today. We acknowledge the many challenges that we face as a society. This morning on the Order of Business, I commented that our budgetary process should be amended. I said that in three contexts. Almost everything that was in yesterday's budget has been well promulgated. Budgetary oversight and our role as Members of the Oireachtas must be amended for future budgets in order that we can look at the issues that should be addressed in the budget, whether gender-proofing or climate change and so on. The list is endless. We as Members of the Oireachtas deserve and should have a better role in that. As referred to by Senator Ruane, there is a need to look at how our budget can help to empower and enhance people's lives. The fundamental point missed by some in this House is that what the Government does is for people, an gnáthduine, as I say, the citizen. That is why the contributions of Senator Ruane and others are to be commended, because they are sincere. Some members of the Opposition fail to account for their own budgetary provision of €3.25 billion and I ask Sinn Féin, in particular, why it has not accounted for that in its budget. Why was it underestimated? The reality is, whether we like it or not, that Sinn Féin is about high taxes and high spending. It is an anti-jobs and anti-worker party, despite all its rhetoric.

In his contribution in the Dáil this morning, the Taoiseach observed that one budget does not solve everything. While this budget is the largest income support measure ever given, there needs to be a fundamental debate for us as a society about people. We have become obsessed with everybody being funnelled through third level education. I would like to have a debate in the House in future about the apprenticeship model, how we can value work and what work means in the future.

I will comment on air connectivity. I welcome the regional airports programme and that Cork Airport is included in it. This budget recognises the importance of our aviation sector. This is recalibration of our spending as a Government as we emerge from Covid-19. I was going to say post Covid-19 but we will be living with Covid for a while. We are moving towards a carbon-neutral world. That requires the national development plan to be debated in the House and the Our Rural Future policy document, which is in the portfolio of the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, should be discussed too. Any recalibration of our spending or a reconfiguration of the national development plan towards a more sustainable model of delivery of a low-carbon, climate-resilient society requires a debate, education, empowerment and information. We are emerging from Covid-19 and, looking at our roads, the traffic is back. What does it mean for the person living in Tirelton or Kilmichael who does not have direct access to a bus route to get to Cork city? How do we create that sustainable, friendly model for everybody?The important point for me is that this budget is about people and about promoting an alternative. It has also ensured that in the case of Cork, Cork Airport will be included in the regional airports programme. It should receive fair funding from that.

I hope the Leader will facilitate a debate in the future on our budgetary process? It is important that we do that as Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas.


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