THE LABOUR PARTY want €2 billion worth of budget cuts instead of the €3.1 billion being proposed by government.
However, the Minister for State with responsibility for Health and Disabilities Kathleen Lynch said she has yet to discuss this with coalition partners Fine Gael.
“There is a whole debate about will it be €3 billion or €2 billion in relation to the money we’ve already saved… The Labour Party’s position would be the lesser sum,” the Minister told TheJournal.ie.
“There’s a view out there that says you should do all the awful stuff now and get it out of the way… But when people have been living with difficult budgets for the last number of years it’s very difficult to make that argument.”
She said Labour would push to use “the money they have saved in order to create greater employment and give some kind of ease to people who have suffered”.
Lynch would not divulge what was in the pipeline for Budget 2014 but said there would be an obvious mix of “increasing taxes” and “cutting services”. She said no department would be exempt from cuts as “the people in finance are looking at everything”.
When asked what area of her department she would fight for most, she said “everything” but added that she would like to see more money going into the area of mental health.
“The mental health budget has been decreased. Amazingly, when the country was awash with money, the last government didn’t think we needed these services in relation to people’s mental well-being”.
“The gradual reduction in the mental health budget is something I think has to be addressed,” she said.
When Lynch was questioned about the possibility of people with disabilities being exempt from future budget cuts she said:
“Everyone believes that their own areas should be exempt… If we are all successful in that we would be going nowhere”.
She would not be drawn on if this would be the “worst budget yet” as she hates “kite-flying” but she did admit that in budget meetings Ministers were fiercely protective of their own departments, like they were all “lined up on either side” protecting their own:
- Camera and editing by Michelle Hennessey