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Brendan Howlin Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
budget 2015

Well done you guys: Howlin says today about rewarding 'incredible effort of the Irish people'

Meanwhile, Mary Lou McDonald has said that the proof of austerity being over will be in the pudding.

Updated 11.30am 

TODAY’S BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT must sustain the recovery and reward “the incredible effort of the Irish people”, the Public Expenditure and Reform Minister has said.

Brendan Howlin said today’s Budget announcement will “sustain recovery” as he headed into the final Cabinet meeting before this afternoon’s Dáil proceedings get under way.

Ministers are expected to sign off on the final details of Budget 2015 today including tax measures that include an income tax cut and changes to USC that will be aimed at benefiting low and middle income earners.

“Our objective from the very start, and it was regarded by many as an impossible objective, was to get a deficit below 3 per cent by 2015. We’re going to achieve that and we’re going to achieve that with a margin,” Howlin told reporters this morning.

He said that the Budget has to be done “in a way that sustains and rewards the incredible effort of the Irish people.

“Government has to govern in accordance with the will of the people as well and after seven years of the harshest difficulty people want to see the horizon, they want to see the shape of a better Ireland and that’s what we have to begin today to plan out.”

Howlin said that while it would be impossible to undo the “difficult decisions of the past” he said the “real success” of recent years had been that both ecomomic and social targets have been reached.

He said the government hoped to get unemployment below 10 per cent – it currently stands at 11.1 per cent – by the end of next year.

Opposition reaction

With much talk of this Budget heralding the end of austerity, the opposition parties have said much will depend on the content of the measures announced today.

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House this morning, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams says his party would get rid of property tax and water changes and put money in people’s pockets.

He added: “The fact is people cannot pay these charges and we’re facing into Christmas.”

Also speaking at Leinster House this morning, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald was adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach.

“There has been a lot made of this end to austerity. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, as they say. Let’s see what the government come forward with today,” she said.

First published 9.28am 

State of the Nation: Will this be the day austerity finally came to an end?

Video: Here’s Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin introducing Budget 2015

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