Budget Verdict

Ministers in the firing line as budget impact emerges

Genevieve Carbery Wed, Oct 16
LIVE: Budget Verdict

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  • 08:18
    Good morning. Today it’s the verdict on the budget as details of the impact begin to emerge.

    Ministers will face the firing line on the airwaves including interviews with Noonan and Howlin at 9am and 10am and Enda Kenny on his feet in the Dail at 10.30am. We’ll follow it all here as it happens.
  • 08:31
    First minister in the firing line is Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore who has been defending cuts to medical cards and young people’s unemployment payments .

    Of removing the bereavement grant he said on RTE : “we felt in many cases it simply disappears into the bill of the undertaker or into the estate”

    “This is the last of the difficult budgets” he said.
  • 08:42
    A look at the editorial verdicts in today's papers which give the Coalition a mix of thumbs up and thumbs down. 

    The Irish Times editorial reads: “A careful balancing act”. The budget “contained further pain for citizens and an erosion in public service and entitlements….but it also offered a prospect of economic growth with an unexpectedly large job creation programme taking centre stage”. You can read it here.

    The Daily Mail editorial reads: “After years of cuts it seems benign but the devil is in the detail”

    The Star editorial:  “Chance to drive recovery missed”.

    The Sun editorial: “Road to recovery” and says “There is enough in this Budget to encourage job creation and to fuel a fragile recovery . “You’ve promised us we’ve turned the corner Michael, don’t let us down”

    The Examiner editorial writes: "Austerity cannot be masked":. It concludes that “Whateverway they spin it, this is an austerity budget”.

    The Irish Independent editorial says it was : "A brave clever and balanced Budget but it will still hurt. " It says this is not the Budget most expected after talk about less austerity the result “may feel like a dose of cold water” .
  • 08:46
    The front page headlines in the papers give a much tougher verdict than their editorials in general: 
    The Irish Times: “Tough Budget tempered by €500m jobs stimulus package.” The front page story notes “Cut to maternity pay and medical card limits most likely to cause difficulties” “Former FG minister Lucinda Creighton abstains in health insurance vote” Beer, spirits and cigarettes to go up by 10c and wine by 50c”  You can read Stephen Collins’ front page story here. 
    The Daily Mail “A Sneaky Budget of Give and Take: Pensioners and savers take a pounding as children under 5 get free medical care. But don’t forget a real property tax bill will hit home in months.”
    The Star: The Hangover Part VII: Seventh budget in five years screws sick, old and poor”
    The Sun: “Nooney Tunes, that’s all folks?” with a cartoon image of the finance minister. “Budget hits young & old but Government vows worst over”
    The Examiner:  “Cradle to grave cuts , unemployment and elderly hit hardest” 
    The Irish Independent: “Unkindest cuts: Pensioners, savers, working mothers hit; boost for business, tourism, job creation; family health insurance costs set to rise."
  • 08:51
    If the budget is depressing you then don't look at the Met Eireann website. Outside it's pathetic fallacy central. 

    Met Eireann is warning of heavy rain across most of the countries with a risk of 30 to 40 mm in some areas. It's a yellow alert. Or "Yellow rain alert" as another news website headlined in recent weeks to confusion. As for the rainfall radar. Eek!
  • 08:52
  • 08:56
    If you missed the budget details here are the main points in summary: 
    Conor Pope sums it up nicely here:  He writes: "If you’re a teetotaller aged between 25 and 70 without any savings other than a modest pension and don’t give birth or suffer a bereavement over the next 12 months then Michael Noonan’s third budget will probably not trouble you greatly.
    ......It is, however, a different story for hundreds of thousands of others. If you are young and unemployed or pregnant or elderly then yesterday will have been another bleak budget day, with many of the measures rolled out by Mr Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin set to hit you hard."
  • 09:08
    The international reaction to the budget has focused the closing of the Apple tax loophole. 
    The front page of the Financial Times: Dublin to shut door on Apple tax loophole. It reads “Ireland has bowed to international pressure and said it would close a legal loophole that enabled Apple to save tax of $44bn of offshore income in the country’s first major step against tax avoidance. “
    The Times of London: “Irish prepare to put a lid on Apple’s Cork tax break” 
    The Telegraph: "Irish finance minister pledges to close Apple tax loophol"
    Our Washington Correspondent Simon Carswell writes that US senators Carl Levin and John McCain welcomed the move as showing Ireland is “ready to close the door on these egregious corporate tax abuses.” You can read it here.
  • 09:16
    So just to clarify the traditional post budget interviews on d'radio.  Today with Sean O'Rourke will have the usual finance minister questions from listeners in a double-act by Noonan and Howlin from 10am to 11am 
    In an arguable downgrade for Pat Kenny in his first Newstalk post-budget day he will have the ministers from the top spending departments. Minister for Health James Reilly will join Pat Kenny on Newstalk from 10am. He will also have Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. 
    We'll be following on the live blog (giving me an hour to develop the skill of listening to two radio stations simultaneously)
  • 09:31
    Could ministers yet face the wrath of the dreaded silver-haired protester of the grey army  which emerged after cuts to medical cards in 2008 (later the Government did a u-turn)?

    Active Retirement Ireland said the budget was “shameful and unjust” while Age Action Ireland said it would “ cause increased hardship for the most vulnerable of older people”. 
    Older people’s groups have bemoaned the abolition of telephone allowance, increase in prescription charges, and changes to income limits for the Over-70s medical card as well as the cut to the bereavement grant. 

    Kitty Holland looked at the impact on women and older people here. 
  • 09:42
    The fullness of the impact on another group, new mothers, is becoming clearer when the figures are added up, with maternity benefit halved in the past two budgets.  
    The cut in the top rate of maternity benefit from €262 to €230 per week combined with the decision to tax maternity benefit last year “means benefits for some mothers of newborn children will drop from almost €7,000 only three months ago to slightly over €3,500 from the beginning of next year," Carl O’Brien writes.

    The National Women’s Council fears this will force mothers back to work earlier. More here. 
  • 09:50
    The “leaves on the line” chestnut is adding to the wet post-budget mistery of Dublin commuters this morning with delays on the Dart.  Irish Rail has apologised for delays and even linked to an explanation of the phenomenon here.
    Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has been tweeting from the scene. 
    And for non-Dart commuters there are weather delays - more details here. 
  • 09:56
    There was relief among most that there were no income tax increases (or those sneaky back-door tax hikes like cutting PRSI credits or increasing USC).

    Chris Johns looked at new taxation figures which he says show low tax Ireland is a myth with self-employed and PAYE earners pay the same tax. He says a single-self employed person on €120,000 will give 44.8% of income to the State. More here. 
  • 09:59
    Sean or Pat? RTE or Newstalk? Howlin and Noonan or Reilly and Burton? It's decision time for the post-budget chat. Which way to turn the dial? Maybe I'll just listen to Big Phil on KCLR instead.
  • 10:13
    Here they are:
  • 10:13
    Meanwhile on the other end of the dial: 
  • 10:19
    Most interesting thing from the first segment of Sean O'Rourke interview was asking Howlin about a letter referenced by Fianna Fail yesterday in which a social welfare officer advised an unemployed person of a job in Canada.

    Quick off the mark FF tweeted the letter during in the last few minutes.

  • 10:22
    Lines have opened to the public. First up is  a question from Robert a separated man whose tax credit has gone down due to being a secondary carer. He described it as discriminatory. 
    Noonan said: Separated families get tax credits twice for children so they are confining tax credit to main carer at full rate (person who gets child benefit).
  • 10:28
    Next question is from mother Stella about medical cards lost to some while GP cards are given to under 5s.. Woman says twin boys with cerebral palsy (one quadriplegic and the other has autism), lost medical cards and need 24 hour care. “Can you tell me where is the signal that you cherish my children as equally as the under 5s?” she said.
    Howlin: “We have no policy to cut discretionary card…you should not lose unless you are well in excess of the guidelines”. He says there is no change in the guidelines but he does not know what the HSE is implementing. 
  • 10:32
    We have come a long way from the windfall days of Charlie McCreevy’s SSIAs…Michael Noonan asked about DIRT (increased to 41%) said the problem is “saving ratios are too high” and people are not spending so they are “removing the incentive to save”.
  • 10:33
    Have questions on the budget? We've a live blog running where you can ask questions answered by Conor Pope, Dominic Coyle and PwC tax expert John Kelly here. 
  • 10:40
    Meanwhile over on Newstalk TV 
  • 10:43
  • 10:46
    "Miles do you want to hear the minister?" Sean O’Rourke scolds a long-talking listener. It's no Joe Duffy approach who has perfected this with a few gentle "tut tuts" and "ah come on nows".
  • 10:51
    The youth employment issue is raising its head again….

    “The message that the government gave is effectively blaming unemployed people for being unemployed” came from changes to the jobseekers allowance for young people, a listener Brendan says. 
    “Everything we did yesterday was to have job creation at the centre.” Howlin said and “We want to avoid the mistakes of the 1980s”. 
  • 10:53
    You never know what you’ll get with live listeners  …one asking about axing of the bereavement grant asks if Enda Kenny died next week would the State pay for his funeral…. “That’s all a bit morbid” O’Rourke says skipping on quickly. 
    Howlin points out that it’s an insured person’s payment only so does not impact on the poorest. 
  • 10:54
    New BFFs?
  • 10:56
    Among the lines from the Reilly interview on Newstalk "After this we have control of our purse again, as Michael Noonan put it". He also said that on a child's 6th birthday, they will lose their free GP care.
  • 10:59
    Meanwhile over in the Dail leaders questions is ...lively :  
  • 11:01
  • 11:04
    More Fianna Fail finger-wagging from Enda Kenny in the Dail.  “This budget is about exiting the bailout that these people over here… I remember the press conference when they walked off the stage and were replaced by the Troika and our sovereignty was handed away.” 
    It’s a continuation of yesterday when Brendan Howlin “stopped short of blaming the Famine on Fianna Fail” according to Miriam Lord here .
  • 11:10
    More happy snaps from Newstalk towers as Joan Burton is live on air.
  • 11:15

    Maternity benefit is first up for Joan Burton.

    There are "a lot of females of a certain age” working in the office Pat Kenny notes and he says their message from the budget was “don’t get sick, don’t get pregnant and give up the cigarettes”.

    Burton says: “I regret any reduction [in maternity benefit]..but it is significantly more for a long period of time than other European countries” adding that child benefit remained the same and universal .
  • 11:18
    Pat almost accuses Joan Burton of betraying the sisterhood with the maternity benefit decision.  “Did you make this decision yourself? As a woman did you make this decision on women?” Pat asks.  
  • 11:27
    As Joan Burton talks about Jobbridge  giving opportunities to the youth unemployed…Broadsheet.ie has dug up this interesting opportunity  on the JobBridge website seeking a "slaughter person" working in the “kill floor” of an “abbatoir”. Hmm appealing. See it here.
  • 11:31
    Joan Burton says she didn't want to cut the bereavement grant but it was being factored into the costs of funerals.  
  • 11:33
    We might give you the answer by the end of the day if you can't figure out this conundrum.  
  • 11:45
  • 11:52

    We've a short breather in the politician budget radio roadshow with Ruairi Quinn on Newstalk at 12.30pm, meanwhile the Tanaiste is on his feet in the Dail speaking on the budget.

  • 11:58
    It seems like Dail TV is showing repeats....it’s that blame Fianna Fail episode again.  

    There has to be some limit on the hypocrisy in his house …we had to listen to a pious lecture from Fianna Fail on welfare cuts but they cut them three times and we protected them …..Eamon Gilmore tells the Dail.
  • 12:16
    The minister is taking to the tweet machine tomorrow.
  • 12:21
    In other news - the post-match interview that everyone is talking about - RTE's Tony O'Donoghue and interim soccer manager Noel King after the Kazhakhstan game. The awkward moment begins at 2mins 20s. "This is typical. Don't degrade the players' performance". Watch here
  • 12:21
  • 12:44
    Ruairi Quinn has been asked about the lower unemployment benefit rates for young people. He says the Government does not want anyone to come out of school and adopt a life as unemployed. “Some of them are content with this”, the Labour minister tells Jonathan Healy on Newstalk in the past few minutes.  
  • 12:47
    Asked if he would be condemning the cuts to young people’s dole were he in opposition Ruairi Quinn pauses and says “possibly” quickly adding a face-saving ”but that’s the role of the opposition”.
  • 12:48
  • 12:58
    Instead of cutting the dole it would be cheaper to give young people a one way ticket out of the country and be done with it, independent TD John Halligan tells the Dail during the budget debate.  
  • 13:14
    They targeted the vulnerable again yesterday: women with babies, the vulnerable elderly, the vulnerable youth, poor people dependent on prescriptions.
    …..The harsh reality is we are not in this together, there is no solidarity now, no sense that the better-off should bear the burden of the fiscal adjustment…  

    Vincent Browne is well-worth a read today.  
  • 13:25
    Joan Burton is back at the microphone again this time on RTE. Still making waves is a comment from her earlier interview on Newstalk that gardai will be working in the department and setting up checkpoints at estates and airports looking for people claiming benefits while going to work or living outside the country.  
  • 13:27
  • 13:32
    TD Stephen Donnelly has accused Gilmore of “doublespeak worthy of George Orwell” that the change in youth social welfare rates was not a cut. He quoted Mr Gilmore speaking on radio that the Government “was simply extending lower rates to these people”.  
  • 13:38

    Other big news this lunchtime is a €10m fund for repairs on homes damaged by pyrite, announced by Phil Hogan. He says it will not cover people who have already paid to have the repairs carried out.  

    Sandra Lewsis of the Pyrite Action Group has told RTE there are some people who have paid for it themselves (not from insurance or builders) by remortgaging or borrowing. "Most people will be happy their house is being fixed...it's dragged on for so long".

  • 13:45
    Looks like the concrete "carbuncle" on Dublin's Dame Street is being removed! It was installed due to traffic volumes during EU presidency. Background on it here.
  • 13:55

    Questions over the  future of security pendant alarms seems to be  the biggest arising from the loss of landline payment for older people.  Joan Burton has indicated that techonology was developing in this area and most older people have mobile phones….it’s the first item being discussed on Liveline today.  

  • 14:09
    "You've targeted a group of people based on age". Here's that speech by Stephen Donnolly taking the govt to task on cuts to young people's unemployment benefits.
  • 14:10
  • 14:15
    The Irish Hospice Foundation has called on the Government to reverse its decision to scrap the bereavement grant.
    It raises “serious ethical questions about the type of society it is creating and specifically how it treats its citizens at one of the most vulnerable period of their lives.”
  • 14:20
    I wonder will this evening's Dail protest on youth social welfare cuts be better attended than yesterday's budget protest? It felt strange outside Leinster House yesterday with so many more gardai than demonstrators for most of the day.  
  • 14:36
    She's barely had time for a quick sandwich and she's on her feet again...Joan Burton is giving a speech on the budget to the Dail.  
  • 14:49
    The live register will go below 400,000 next week, Joan Burton has told the Dail.  
  • 14:59
    "A €10 million fund has been set up to tackle the pyrite problem but only the most seriously damaged homes will be able to avail of the relief," Joe Humphreys writes. More here.  
  • 15:07
    The revelation by Terry Keane of her affair with Mr Haughey on the Late Late Show was one of the most painful moments for the former taoiseach, PJ Mara said today on RTE Radio. Almost 15 years after that revealing interview the fascination continues with this story one of the most read on the website today.
  • 15:11
    Some positive post-budget news from Ryanair following the scrapping of the travel tax... Michael O'Leary is just determined to win the Irish public over in his new bid to be Mr Nice Guy.  
  • 15:22

    Ryanair says its move will deliver "more visitors than the Gathering" In a statement the airline says it has has invited airports  to a meeting on Thursday and Friday to finalise  plans.

    "The repeal of the air travel tax helps restore Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness to overseas visitors from the UK and Continental Europe in particular." Michael Cawley of the airline says.  

  • 15:26
    Ryanair has repeatedly talked about bringing in more routes if the travel tax was scrapped. Looks like they may deliver.  
  • 15:37
    Tony McHenry What planet are this government living on? For years we were told to save for the future, which I did, now in my 70's they want 41% of any interest I get. I already paid taxes on any monies I saved and they now want more.
  • 15:38
    “The Government’s approach continues to be very short-term and one-dimensional as it focuses almost exclusively on reducing the budget deficit"...that’s the view of Social Justice Ireland which has just issued its budget critique, accessible here.  
  • 15:51
    Ictu is giving its post-budget briefing at the moment.
  • 15:55

    Plane crash in Laos is the breaking international story at the moment. Reports are that all 44 people on board have been killed after the internal flight crashed into the Mekong. The Bangkok Post reports that among the dead are nationals from Australia, Korea, France, US, Canada, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.  

  • 16:16
  • 16:35

    Pamela Duncan has more on Joan Burton's statement about using gardai to counter welfare fraud.

    I can picture the scene now. It's a rainy morning at 7am in a Co Kildare estate and a Garda at a checkpoint stops a motorist.

    Garda: Where are you going?  
    Driver: Not to work anyway!  
    Garda: Why are you up so early then?  
    Driver: Darn you got me.  

    Hard to see how exactly this will work without the detail?

  • 16:52

    The scrapping of the travel tax in the budget has been welcomed by the Irish Travel Agents Association. It urged airlines to to deliver on the 1 million extra passengers (as promised by Ryanair today) and asked them to "play their part" by reducing other charges such as ash cloud protection (yes we still pay that years later) and those dreaded sneaky administration fees.  

  • 17:09
    All eyes are turning to the US where it looks the the Senate is about to announce a last minute debt-deal....more as we get it.
  • 17:21

    The Government made the "wrong choices" in the budget, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions told reporters today.

    It said the reduction in jobseekers was "difficult to understand at a time when there are 30 applicants for every vacancy.". It described the maternity cut as "anti-women and anti-family" . A cut in the public transport subsidy "almost certainly result in a rise in fares"

  • 17:22
  • 17:27
    Looks like white smoke in the US senate where bipartisan leaders finally reached an agreement to end the fiscal impasse
  • 17:28
    Fandango Hi....are we going to find out the answer to "Where's Wally? Have you spotted Heisenberg hiding amongst today's Irish Times Budget 2014 coverage yet?" Thanks
  • 17:29
    Drumroll...even more exciting than the agreement in the US is the answer to this morning's question whre is Heisenberg in the budget 2014 coverage...
  • 17:32
  • 17:33
    See  below photo on page eight of today's budget supplement the "single-income family" man is wearing a Heisenberg t-shirt. Hmm...we may have oversold this big reveal!
  • 17:39
    "It's never easy for two sides to reach consensus. This time was really hard"  democrat Harry Reid says of the deal. "This has been long challenging few weeks for the government and for the country" republican Mitch McConnell says.
  • 17:42
    In case that photo isn't displaying for you, here it is in a tweet:  
  • 17:46

    The US deal  will reopen the government until January 15th and increase the nation’s borrowing authority until February 7th....and then it all starts over ? Oh boy.  

    I'm signing off for the day. Thanks for reading. You can keep up with that US story as it progreses throughout the evening here.