Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
so long farewell

Austerity is finally, officially, totally, absolutely finished: Noonan

It was already done with a year ago, apparently.

BLINK AND YOU would’ve missed it, but austerity is apparently long gone from Ireland – at least according to the government.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday told the Dáil the cycle of harsh budget cuts ended “more than 12 months ago” and there was “no austerity programme in Ireland now”.

“The most recent budget imposed no new expenditure cuts or no new taxes, and a significant amount of tax relief was given in the budget, both in terms of reductions in universal social charge and in income tax,” he said.

Noonan was responding to questions from Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy on calls for a European debt conference, a plan which was voted down in the Dáil yesterday.

Murphy said a proposal from the now-ruling Syriza party in Greece would lead to Ireland’s debts being written down to 50% of GDP and that would free up money for “major infrastructural projects, house building and job creation”.

It is not sustainable from the point of view of ordinary people to continue the policy of austerity, and have massive primary surpluses targeted in Greece and in Ireland which will only come at the expense of public services, jobs and living conditions,” he said.

File Photo TD Paul Murphy has defended anti water charge protesters who targeted the President outside a Dublin school on Friday. Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Singing an old song

But Noonan said Murphy was singing “the hit parade of last year or two years ago”.

“The (last) budget was mildly expansionary and that will be reinforced by reductions in energy prices and by the quantitative easing proposals from the European Central Bank,” he said.

There will be quite significant stimulus in demand coming through. Anybody one talks to will tell one it is there already on the January pay cheques.”

The latest figures from the exchequer showed a 12.9% increase in the government’s underlying tax take in January when compared to the same month in 2014.

However the interest bill on its loans continues to rise and last year the cost of servicing the national debt hit nearly €7.5 billion for the 12 months.

READ: Euro takes a wallop as ECB plays hardball with Greece >

READ: A European country is wiping out thousands of its citizens’ debts. But it’s not Greece >

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