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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C

BUDGET 2015: As it happened (and what it did to and for you)

Tax changes, eye-catching bumps to cigarettes and child benefit: but was this a budget to signal the end of austerity?

Niall Carson / PA Wire Niall Carson / PA Wire / PA Wire

Welcome to Budget Day on

We brought you the 2015 announcements from Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, and now we are breaking down what their measures will mean for YOU – and your pocket. 

Leave your thoughts in the comments section, tweet at us (@thejournal_ie) or mail us on 

It’s grey and a little bit wet in Dublin this morning. Hopefully that’s not some pathetic fallacy for what’s to come today.

But it seems the rest of the country is faring a little better.

PastedImage-2322 Met Eireann Met Eireann

It’s Sinéad O’Carroll here, taking you through the first, easy steps. If you want to get in touch with me, you’ll find me on Twitter @SineadOCarroll or by mail at

Send us your thoughts and concerns about the day ahead – or your musings about what Noonan and Howlin should do at 2.30pm.

We’re firing up the liveblog early this morning to keep you on top of everything we know so far about Budget 2015 (including the colour of Michael Noonan’s tie).

And, don’t worry, we won’t abandon you early. We’ll be here all day to guide you through the announcements, and what impact they will have on your wage packet, benefits and outgoings.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has already been spotted – sporting a purple/pink tie, speech in hand – outside Government Buildings this morning.

Richard Chambers

Is that purple or pink?

Right, that’s enough silliness for the moment. Let’s get down to the real stuff.

Much of Budget 2015 has been revealed through timely and orchestrated government leaks so here’s what we know what will (probably) happen today:

  • A reduction of 1% to the 41% tax bracket
  • Increase in the threshold (from €32,800 to €33,800) at which people enter the higher 40% rate
  • An increase of the bands for USC to help low and middle income earners
  • More people will receive €100 payment to help with new water charges (including long-term unemployed and those on Fuel Allowance)
  • Tax relief on water bills of up to €100 a year
  • An extra 20c on packs of cigarettes
  • No change to alcohol prices
  • A substantial decrease in the private pension levy
  • Major spending in education, social housing and health
  • An attempt to tackle the controversial ‘Double Irish’ loophole

In the comments section, Mark Miller asks:

Is it too soon to change the hash tag “As it happens” to “Sh*t happens”?

I’ll give it some thought, Mark.

PastedImage-62020 Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

We’ve already heard from Brendan Howlin today, with the Public Expenditure and Reform Minister (essentially, the Dad of the government who gives out the pocket money) praising the people of Ireland for their ‘incredible effort’ at austerity.

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.

Read more here. 

Emer from just sent this our way to exclamations of, “Well, isn’t this Celtic Tiger Baby?”

The new, very fancy, TWO STOREY Nespresso store is opening in Dublin today. Yes, on Budget Day!

Emer writes:

While the date might be coincidental, the temptation to point to the store as an excuse for “NO RECESSION HERE” and “RECESSION? WHAT RECESSION?” quips is irresistible.

Don’t let Michael Noonan see it before 2.30pm. Or the IMF. Or the Troika. Or the Germans. Jesus, lads.

The books are ready. Yikes.

Reader Theresa Kavanagh Connell isn’t worried though. In the comments section, she writes:

I’m really looking forward to this budget. Good things are beginning to happen again.  Workers will be rewarded for their hard work/sacrifices over the last few years.

To prove there won’t be as much austerity this year, (the government’s news service) made a snazzy video of Noonan and Howlin this morning. Here’s what the pair had to say.

Key words: ‘give something back’ and ‘turning point’

MerrionStreetNews / YouTube

Are you a budget boffin?

Prove it! Our reporter Paul Hosford has put together this quiz about budgets from bygone eras. How much can you remember? I’ll give you clue for one of the answers.

14598151139_bae3b6ea02_z Internet Archive Book Images Internet Archive Book Images

There’s always one.

This guy was spotted by our Political Editor Hugh O’Connell on Kildare Street this morning. We presume he won’t be on his own for long.

Something from Hugh O’Connell:

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.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been as robust as ever, saying:

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.

14/10/2014. Cabinet Meeting. Pictured An Taoiseach sam boal sam boal

The Taoiseach arriving for today’s pre-Budget Cabinet briefing in Leinster House.

Just a reminder of today’s schedule:

2.30pm Michael Noonan’s Budget 2015 speech starts

3.10pm Brendan Howlin’s Budget 2015 speech starts

The Irish Times has just published an exclusive story, claiming that Budget 2015 will include a surprise €5 increase in child benefit.

There were no further details given by sources so we’re not sure what exactly this will mean for family incomes.

Currently, child benefit rates are €130 per month for each child under the age of 18. The rates were cut by between €10 and €20 in Budget 2013.

Our Political Editor has been asking around about that breaking child benefit story (that there will be a surprise €5 increase). He reports:

Cabinet source tells me that a fiver on child benefit is a possibility. Nothing confirmed at this stage.

Reader Catherine Sims isn’t impressed. She says:

5 euro Increase in child benefit ? Well it’s going to take more than five euro to buy my vote at the next election .

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Brian Dowling has just been talking to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One about the planned measures – and everything that’s leaked so far.

He says one thing that has been kept quiet – until now – is a fourth rate of USC.

Another reaction to the child benefit speculation…


With the hard work over them, the lads and ladies over at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are having the craic and are considering day-to-night outfits.


The front page of today’s late edition of The Herald has some more revelations about what to expect come 2.30pm.

Under the headline Payback Time, it predicts the €5 increase in child benefit and a 25% Christmas bonus on pensions.

The 40c hike on cigarettes would mean that a pack will cost €10.


Time for another refresher about what we know so far? 

1. The introduction of a fourth rate of USC for the highest earners, plus an increase in the bands to help low- and middle-income earners

2. A €5 increase to child benefit, bringing the payment to €135 per child per month

3. A 40c increase on packets of cigarettes, bringing them close to a €10 price tag

4.  A 25% Christmas bonus for pensioners

5. A reduction of 1% to the 41% tax bracket

6. More people will receive €100 payment to help with new water charges (including long-term unemployed, pensioners and those on Fuel Allowance)

7. Tax relief on water bills of up to €100 a year

8. No change to alcohol prices.

9. A substantial decrease in the private pension levy

10. Major spending in education, social housing and health

11. A closing of the controversial ‘Double Irish’ loophole

Here’s more from those pizza protesters.

It looks like they don’t need to swear their cheese off though, indications are that the 9% VAT for the tourism industry will be maintained.

As you have seen from the reports below, there is now an expectation that the Christmas Bonus will be returned (in part) to pensioners. The 25% payment will come in at around €40 or €50.

That’s enough for at least 10 Selection Boxes.

PastedImage-57485 Sharon Laffan Magennis Sharon Laffan Magennis

Ahead of today’s budget announcements, water charges have been the most controversial and anger-inducing move the government has made.

It sparked tens of thousands of people to protest in Dublin on Saturday and led this Cork man to a planned 12-day hunger strike.

PastedImage-97947 Gary Coleman Hunger Striker via Facebook Gary Coleman Hunger Striker via Facebook

Gary Coleman started the protest outside Cork City Hall yesterday evening and plans to continue it to raise awareness for an anti-water charges protest in the city on 25 October.

Read his story here.

We’re hearing more from Leinster House about that fourth rate of USC. It is expected to be 8% on earners above €70,000.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath hasn’t missed an opportunity to take a swipe at both ministers and the media today over the column inches that have been filled with Budget leaks in recent days.

But, somehow, he managed to praise Phil Hogan at the same time.


In a statement issued this afternoon, he said:

“I find it very disturbing that we are in a now in position where the leaking of confidential Budget information is treated as the norm and without consequence.

In 1995 when Phil Hogan was Minister of State at Finance and inadvertently leaked confidential budget data he resigned immediately, which was an honourable thing to do regardless of his more recent performances.

Read more from the Tipperary man on shortly.

Hi there folks - editor Susan Daly taking over the liveblog now as we get closer to the announcement from Messrs. Noonan and Howlin at 2.30pm.

From our Political Editor Hugh O’Connell in Leinster House comes the good news that there will be a “modest increase” in the Living Alone Allowance for older people.

And from old to young….

Some tweeters have been coming up with their own suggestions for improving the country’s coffers.

What do you think of this one?

Or this one, from the same guy. He should think of charging consultancy fees, no?

And more from our man taking the temperature in the halls of Leinster House, Hugh O’Connell:

Speaking to a few government backbenchers around Leinster House and it’s fair to say there’s a very different mood amongst them to this time last year.

Labour in particular are buoyed by the plans to increase child benefit by €5 and partially restore the Christmas Bonus.

“We can go and face people on the doors now,” one Labour senator says, adding that Tánaiste Joan Burton has “really put her stamp” on this Budget.

One final go to make ‘the Burton Bounce’ a thing?

Even as the Dáil chamber begins to fill up:

Some people are getting fierce excited. Too excited, perhaps:

Bit of business to get out of the way in Dáil first: the announcement of the two new TDs for Dublin South West and Roscommon-Leitrim, Socialist Paul Murphy and independent Michael Fitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice got a handshake and a laugh from Gerry Adams:

And a huge laugh from the assembled members when Paul Murphy shook hands with Tánaiste Joan Burton, whose Labour party took a huge nosedive in the constituency this time around (compared to 2011 election):

And here comes Finance Minister Michael Noonan with his Budget statement:

He gets in with a first pop at the Opposition, for saying the Government would “fail” in its bid to get the country back on track.

He’s missing this as a soundtrack:

ShaniaTwainVEVO / YouTube

“This government will not return to the boom and bust model,” says Noonan.

A few heartfelt ‘hear, hears’.

“The sacrifices of the Irish public” likely to be a repeated phrase in this speech to recognise that we’re not out of the woods, and that many people – as Noonan says – will not feel recovery while they are still out of a job, or seeing a hole in their pocket, or feeling the departure of a loved one through economic migration.

JOBS: Noonan estimates there will be 80,000 more employed by the end of this year than there were two and a half years ago. Two million at work in 2016, he reckons. He wants to see unemployment reduced to 10%.

GROWTH: 3.7% of GDP for 2014 forecast – well inside what they expected last year, he says. GDP growth of 4.7% forecast for 2014.

Real GDP of 3.6% in 2015 forecast originally – he says he’s revising that to 3.9% for 2015. “Solid and steady economic growth” is what we want.

DEBT: Net debt forecast 91% for 2014 (under 111% forecast previously). BUT we’re still way worse off than many in the EU so we can’t let that reduction to its own devices.

This is Noonan’s way of setting the scene for  today’s Budget measures.

He is targeting a deficit of 2.7% (ahead of the recommended target of 2.9%) for Budget 2015, so we can… get ahead of ourselves?


This is the bit exercising the Financial Times, Barack Obama and most of the EU. Ireland’s foreign direct investment attractions.

A “Road Map to secure Ireland’s place as a destination for the best and most successful companies in the world” being announced.

The rate of corporation tax – 12.5% – will REMAIN. “It never has been and NEVER WILL BE up for discussion”.

Improvements to measures and funding

Three-year tax relief for start-ups to be extended.

A ‘Knowledge Development Box’ – along the lines of patent box (we will bring you more on this on later – is being introduced. It is an intellectual property offering to attract future MNCs to Ireland.

And now onto the DOUBLE IRISH

It will be ABOLISHED by changing residency rules, from Jan 2015 for new companies – phased out for those already here:

FARMING and AGRI-FOOD: It’s our largest indigenous sector and employs 170,000 people so we should look after it, yes?

The Agri-Taxation Review has brought this up:

There will be no milk quotas from 2015 but we need more land available – to improve long-term lesing of land, tax-exempt threshold increased to 50%; longer leases; CAT relief for active farmers; raising 40-year-age limit; extending CG measures; removing stamp duty on ag leases over 5 years; extending farm restructuring support.

There will also be help for farmers who have to seek income from another job to supplement their income from agriculture, along with changes to VAT registration for farmers.

Bloodstock sector will be helped with €6m over 3 years to horse racing and greyhound industry.

Micro-breweries are a big success for Ireland in recent years, so they will get more excise relief production capacity with the ceiling raise from 20k to 30k hectolitres.

Marine sector will also get a tax review like that which the agri sector got last year (leading to the measures he announced today).

Oil exploration is one area being looked at – that has been an area of controversy again in recent years.

Jesus, Michael Noonan, that’s a dreadful cough you have there.

Heather Humphreys perks up at mention of the film credits system.

There may be an increase next year to the eligible expenditure cap of €50m in this area – but he won’t look at that until next year’s Budget.

Travel and tourism 

Big pat on the back for the government on tourist increases – Noonan says that the 9% VAT rate on tourism-related activities has been “a great success” and that there are 23,000 more people employed in the sector since mid-2011.


But he warns the tourism sector to make sure the relief is passed on to the consumers. IE, beware the rip-off culture that might be springing back up.

And here’s an even bigger warning: “If prices begin to rise”, he’ll think of taking away that 9% rate. So now.

That 9% VAT rate was helped with the Pension Levy, which was continued last year.

He’s ENDING the 0.6% pension levy at the end of 2014.

The additional 0.15% levy for 2014/15 will expire at the end of 2015.

PROPERTY: The market is in shite, says Noonan. Sorry “not currently meeting the needs of our citizens”. In private, social and rental market. And he’s not wrong.

Supply is the issue, claims Noonan, and the State can’t meet either the private or social housing needs of the public. But neither can they use taxpayers’ money to prop up construction companies for the sake of it, he says.

PROPERTY: Brendan Howlin will speak about social housing.

He is keeping the Home Renovation Incentive – extending it to RENTAL properties whose owners pay income tax.

He is removing the 80% windfall tax on disposal or development of land which has been in the planning system since October 2009. This comes in next January 1.

He will remove the Capital Gains Tax relief by end of 2014 on purchase of property – it’s “no longer needed”, he says.

The CGT of 33% rate will now apply to property market.

First-time buyers get a refund on DIRT on savings used to purchase homes (up to 20%) up until the end of 2017. This comes in TONIGHT.

Noonan is vowing that tax incentives for developers will not be the priority to allow people who want to actually live in the houses/apartments they buy, to do so.

WATER CHARGES: Income tax relief on the standard rate will be available up to a maximum of €500 per household.

Noonan reckons this works out at about €100 back to households every year on what they are paying on water charges.

Cue heckles from the benches.

“Without interruption, please” says Ceann Comhairle.

SMEs: Loans are the issue – and cash flow – so the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland  - will be formally launched at end of October. The Permanent TSB will start lending to SMEs again.

The Seed Capital scheme is coming back in the next few months too.

Foreign Earnings Deduction to be extended to SMEs operating an export business to a larger range of countries, and apparently there will be “an integrated export finance strategy in 2015″.


@TJ_Politics @TJ_Politics

Let’s reiterate some of those main points on income tax and levies:

  • The 2% USC rate is reduced to 1.5%
  • The 4% USC rate is reduced to 3.5%
  • Top rate of income tax reduced from 41% to 40%
  • Increasing income tax standard rate band by €1,000 to €33,800 for single individuals
  • New 8% USC rate for incomes over €70,000
  • 11% USC rate for self-employed income over €100,000 (the so-called Top Ten Per Cent of earners)

So, how will we pay for these breaks, incentives and reductions?


The price of cigarettes goes up by that predicted bump of 40 cent - it will now cost a tenner for a pack of 20.

No change to alcohol levies.

No change to tax on motor tax, VRT, diesel or petrol.

20 cent extra on 25g of roll-your-own tobacco.

Big smile from Michael Noonan.

So in brief:

Nigel French Nigel French

Martin Rickett Martin Rickett

The total raised will be €167 million.

Michael Noonan loves his Soundings anthology - cites Robert Frost’s A Road “Less Travelled By” on how his government has tackled the Budgets since 2011.

Now it’s the turn of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

We have to spend €50 billion in 2015 and this is an increase of €429 million on 2014 estimates. The good news though: He doesn’t think it will necessitate cuts this coming year.

CAPITAL SPENDING There will be an increase to €3.5 billion (an increase of €210 million) in 2015. This will also increase in 2016 and 2017, he vows.

JOBS: There will be a Low-Pay Commission established next year to look at how people are gaining, keeping or need help in gaining work at that end of the employment scale.


This is an area of huge concern to people – and there will be €2.2 billion put into social housing provision for the next three years:

€1.5bn coming from the Exchequer

€300m from the PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) into social housing units by 2017

€400m from an “off-balance sheet financial vehicle” from next year – this will be given to approved housing bodies to use to increase supply

Over €800m for 2015 for the housing sector – Howlin says this is the first major investment in improving the situation since 2009.

Will provide additional 2,500 units in 2015 and 6,700 extra in total by 2017.

(There are 56,000 households waiting for social housing at last count, so it’s something – but will it make a huge dent in the supply issue?)

The sale of the Bord Gáis Energy business will provide some financing for the €400m of public investment Howlin says will be made available.

Sorry for bit of delay there folks – we’ve had to get a few more hamsters on our servers.

As we were saying, homelessness gets €10 million more than expected with €55.5 million in total on tackling the issue next year.

Remember our Homeless Ireland 2014 series from last month?

JOBS (AGAIN): The JobPath initiative is continuing to help long-term unemployed back into work – that sees €12m for 2015.

There will be €450 allocated to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

There will be 6,000 places on the wage subsidy scheme, JobsPlus (doubles the number this year).

Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are allocated €260m for R&D next year.

CHILD BENEFIT will increase €5 a child from January 1.


SOCIAL PROTECTION: Joan Burton is getting €19.4 billion to give out in 2015 – there will be no cuts to schemes.

In fact, there will be a new back to work family dividend introduced to allow families to hold on to qualified child increases for 12 months after getting back to work (reduced by 50% in the second year).

Oh, and we forgot, and extra €5 increase to Child Benefit in 2016. Maybe. He’ll see.


And, as we predicted earlier, the Living Alone Allowance increase will be €9 a week – going to 180,000 older people from 1 January next.

Much halloooing around Howlin’s statement on Irish Water. We already heard Michael Noonan speak of tax relief of around €100 per household on their water bill – Howlin says allowances for others in the water subsidy will extend to those who get the fuel allowance every year.

HEALTH: Leo Varadkar will be looking at €13.1bn being processed through his department – a major initiative is to increase woefully-needed staff numbers so that mental health services can be improved, especially at primary care level.

EDUCATION: €8.3 billion earmarked here.

There will be 1,700 new full-time posts available in the sector with no increase to class size.

GARDAI: The recruitment of gardai restarted this autumn, and this will continue as €2.2bn goes to the justice sector.

However, will the new numbers be even enough to replace the number of gardai retiring, never mind increase the current number on the streets?


DEFENCE:  €885m – the Naval Service vessel renewal is part of the plan here


Brendan Howlin had no sooner taken his seat than these opportunists had gotten the Twitter Machine in motion:

Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath has been first to make his feelings known about Budget 2015.

He insisted Noonan and Howlin were taking the wrong course of action (‘the road more travelled,’ we suppose).

He said the “propaganda” leading up to today’s announcement was like something from “North Korea”, and told Noonan, amid heckling, that his Government was “not invincible”.
The headline package on income tax gave the better off much more of an advantage, compared to hard-pressed middle-earners, McGrath said.

He outlined how a worker earning around  €32,000 would only be better off by some €174 per year as a result of the changes announced.
McGrath said any such benefit would be wiped out by water charges, and maintained the entire Budget was the opening salvo of the General Election campaign.

What’s this? Michael McGrath is happy that Michael Noonan has “stood over” the corporation tax rate of 12.5%.

But then says that all the other stuff (eg, closing the ‘Double Irish’ loophole) is a mistake and will put off multinationals coming here.


We’ve got you covered: Click here>

Michael Noonan’s Budget 2015 speech in a word cloud:

Seán Fleming of Fianna Fáil is also getting a run at the floor.

He’s pointing out that the recovery is not being felt by people in all sorts of sectors – he is focusing on a caring, sharing, social justice-oriented society.

The water charges will “cancel out any of the sweeteners announced by the Government” and that most people will not be better off next year, he says.

“The Government is borrowing money to give it away here today.” He’s implying that the FG-Labour coalition are looking towards the votes they will need in a general election within the next two years.

Also, what in the name of God is a ‘knowledge box’?

Great explainer from our business expert Peter Bodkin, for your perusal:

Your comments on the liveblog today has shown some diversity.

Ronan is happy:

Eamonn is wary of giveaways this close to a general election:

The most controversial charges and levies of the past year are understandably grating on Shane:

Seafra has had a good think about the implications of the income tax and pension/USC levies:

And JMaireMc who wants us to look at ourselves, as a wider society:

Seán Fleming is still speaking and makes a point that makes the Dáil go very, very quiet: that there is no mention of suicide prevention in the funding announced in Budget 2015.

There was indeed mention of additional resources for access to mental health services at primary care level – but is this enough? What do you think?

Was there anything else you would have liked to have heard mentioned in Budget 2015 that wasn’t?

Willie O’Dea is not getting to speak for Fianna Fáil so he’s made a big effort with the alliteration for this tweet…

Did we bring you Enda Kenny’s Budget 2015 message?

He concedes that recovery is something many of us have still to feel in our everyday life.

What do you think?

MerrionStreetNews / YouTube

Fianna Fáil leader stood up for a moment before Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty took the floor.

Martin says that there is not one minister and not one junior minister still remaining in the Dáil chamber to hear Opposition responses to the Budget. He has never seen this before and thinks it stinks of disrespect from the Government.

In fairness, Enda Kenny is there. He’s not a minister but he is the Taoiseach.

Pearse Doherty is really disgusted at Enda Kenny, who he says keeps chatting all through his speech.

Doherty feels the Government should have gotten rid of the water charges, and that the recovery is “for the few, not the many”.

He says there is no “State-led” stimulus and that the employment crisis is not being met with speedy, decisive solutions.

He is claiming that USC and tax changes will not help low-paid workers – because any gains will be cancelled out by water charges.


Austerity as we know it is over.

Michael Noonan, Finance Minister, speaking to‘s Hugh O’Connell right now.

Far from being neutral, says Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, this Budget is a disaster for the ‘coping classes’.

She points out that there are cuts coming into play in 2015, that were outlined last year, and these are the ‘hidden cuts’.


Here’s an interesting nugget shared with Hugh O’Connell at Leinster House:

“What’s the catch? Is there a catch?” asks a nervous enough Fine Gael TD who is worried about potential undiscovered landmines for the government in the Budget documentation.

From Social Minister Joan Burton at the Social Protection press briefing:

This is a fair budget. Families, older people, and low and middle-income workers will benefit Businesses will remain competitive … We will not do anything to imperil the recovery. The Government will continue to do what is right for Irish families. There will be no return to the recklessness of the past.

Our reporter Órla Ryan says that Burton explained the €5 hike in child benefit as something that would be “universal”.

(Er, only if you have a child, Minister.)

Burton also said that some €198 million more will be spent in the department next year, including €66 million in “support measures” for people struggling to pay water charges.

However, this particular support won’t apply to the short-term unemployed as Burton said they usually “get back to work quickly”.

BREAKING: Mary Lou McDonald has been ordered to leave the Dáil chamber for arguing with Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett.

He asked her to address the chair, as per Dáil procedure, and not across the floor to the Government.

She looked incredulous asking him if that was why he had interrupted her. When she went on to accuse him of making a biased intervention, Barrett stood up and told her to leave the chamber.

And so she’s out – and we are on to the Technical Group.

This won’t be the last you’ll hear of this, we imagine…

Hugh O’Connell has grabbed Finance Minister Michael Noonan for a special interview at Leinster House.

See the full interview here>

Video / YouTube

Well, you know, austerity as we know it is over, but you always have to cautious and prudent about the future. Certainly the policies I will follow will all be geared to ensure that austerity is over.

In the Dáil, independent TD Catherine Murphy and PBP’s Joan Collins have been speaking and are disappointed for the masses who continue to struggle with the after-effects of austerity.

And new Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Michael Fitzmaurice is making his debut speech as part of the Technical group. He’s bringing the rural perspective – and the specific challenges of living in rural Ireland – to the announcement:

PBP’s Richard Boyd-Barrett is not buying the Santa Claus suggestion of this Budget. He says that the more the Government appears to be giving, the more it is taking away.

The impact of the water tax is the problem here, again.


Oh dear.

James Reilly stuck headphones in his ear as Richard Boyd Barrett’s speech reached its impassioned and rather loud peak.

Those headphones could be for an Irish translation of speeches, or to his iPhone, sitting on the desk in front. We’re not sure why James Reilly would be using them at that particular point…

Let’s hope he’s listening to Thomas Pringle TD, independent TD.

He’s not impressed by the social housing measures.

Now it’s time for Paul Murphy to make his maiden speech, after his election last Saturday to Dublin South West.

He’s speaking for the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

And here he was earlier in the day. Fair to say he was absolutely delighted to be at his first day of work in Leinster House?

Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

“People power will defeat these charges,” says Seamus Healy of the WUAG of the water charges.

Mick Wallace now talking about a “cartel” of a few people (developers, Mick?) controlling the rental property in Ireland, particularly Dublin.

Live from the Health briefing where Órla Ryan was speaking to Minister Leo Varadkar:

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said that while there will be an “uplift” of €765 million in his department next year, one has to take into account the €500 million+ deficit in 2014.

The cycle of cuts in health has come to an end. The budget is challenging,but its targets are achievable.

Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch welcomed the €35 million ring-fenced for mental health services in 2015. She said that the department will develop forensic mental health community teams that will be incorporated into new mental health hospital.

It will also focus on eating disorders, which lead to highest death rate of all the conditions related to mental health.

Varadkar said he couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be a health spend overrun this time next year, but said that the Government would be monitoring how hospitals spend their money more carefully.

Funding of €25 million will be set aside for delayed discharges to improve timelines in hospitals and community services.

There will be no change in the relief given to people who buy health insurance.

  • One to watch?

When asked about the possible introduction of ‘fat tax’ or tax on sugary foods, Varadkar noted that the department had put in a proposal of it last year but the Department of Finance had “lots of issues” with it.

He said both departments are working through these problems – such as whether or not it’s legal and what the experience has been in other European countries.

Independent TD Shane Ross is feeling like today’s announcement is a “big lie” because it shrouds the levies on water and “other things”. He welcomes the Pension Levy removal but that he feels that talk about GDP and growth mean nothing to the majority of people and that the Government is doing nothing novel or radical to change people’s lives.

Here he is, with the seconds of his speech ticking down:

Clare Daly, independent TD, “Ye really haven’t got a clue”.

She calls the Budget an “insult” and that they haven’t redressed the savage cuts that went before.

Maureen O’Sullivan, independent TD, asks: “Who is better off today?”

She speaks of the housing crisis in her central Dublin constituency and how the crisis was allows to escalate. She feels that the public-private partnerships have so far not delivered for citizens, and why are measures not being implemented IMMEDIATELY rather than a few months down the line to tackle rezoning.

As for the homelessness extra funding of €10m? It doesn’t solve the crisis of housing separately those who are in the throes of addiction, and those who are recovering.

And rent control? Where is that? (Good question, Maureen.)

Independent Finian McGrath speaks of those who are “left behind” and talks about the water charges protest last Saturday.

There were at least 80,000 on the streets.

Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

While the Dáil is taking a short break, analysis is heating up outside the chamber.

And more than that, a furious Mary Lou McDonald is outside in the most literal sense. From our Political Editor, Hugh O’Connell:

She is NOT happy. She’s been told she won’t be allowed back in Dáil chamber for the rest of the night, meaning she can’t vote.

If you don’t know what that’s about, read this story>

Joe Higgins, Socialist TD, is currently speaking in the resumed Dáil proceedings where various sections of the Budget are being put to what amounts to committee/discussion stage.

The hike of 40c on cigarettes is being discussed and it’s worth listening to (click into our livestream above) for the debate on whether this is a measure to save people, or to raise revenue.

LOVE/HATE reference in #Budget15. Finian McGrath calls the hike in cigarette price as the ‘Nidge tax’ because it “plays into the hands of the criminal”.

The first debate of the night is over – regarding the extra tax on cigarettes and they are currently voting on it. In most cases, the vote will be carried on measures in this Budget but we will keep you informed if there is any upset…

By the way, this isn’t the only liveblog on site this evening – if you’re interested in the Germany-Ireland game, our pals at are hopping off the keyboard over here>

And in case you were wondering, the tobacco increases have been passed:

Tá 122: Níl 22

We’re onto a debate about that rebate on DIRT for first-time buyers who are using savings to buy a home (up to 20% of the price of the home).

From the press conference this evening with Department of Finance, Órla Ryan reports:

Michael Noonan said that the Budget focused on the two groups of people he feels were most affected by the recession:

1. Those who lost jobs

2. Those who emigrated

Noonan said that measures introduced today would be “mirrored” next year.

He added that the reduction in income tax from 41% and 40%, along with changes to USC, were aimed at helping the “squeezed middle” and lower earners.

However, when asked about the future of USC, he said:

Any tax system that collects €5 billion a year is hard to shift out of a tax code.

That line got a lot of laughs. Go figure…

What of the abolition of the ‘Double Irish’?

We explained it here.

This evening, Órla Ryan reports, Noonan said that he thinks that more companies will move their intellectual property here because it would be taxed at a lower rate than 12.5%, which would continue to apply at the manufacturing end.

Meanwhile, we’re not sure about the tone of the Department of Public Expenditure’s Twitter account today. (Read here)

What do you think?

In case you were wondering about how your pay will change after today’s Budget, we have a breakdown of different pay grades across single, coupled up, with children and on social benefits here.


As always with Budget announcements, little details eke their way out for hours and days after the publication.

Here’s one which is, of course, positive…

…but it does make you wonder how this hasn’t been available to this age group until now, doesn’t it?

Also, keep an eye out on in the morning on the shortfall in promised funding for mental health – and how that is a huge issue for our suicide prevention targets.

Even the Opposition is winding down on this ‘neutral’ (Michael Noonan’s word) Budget 2015, but the debate is still ongoing on Twitter.

The USC, cigarette tax hike, child benefit increase, Christmas bonus part-reintroduction – and Michael Noonan’s frog-in-throat intonation have dominated Twitter trends. 

Although we appreciate this man’s attempt to sum up the whole of #Budget15 in one tweet:

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Pat.

Enda Kenny is on the Nine O’ Clock News on RTE One now.

He says:

This is not a bonanza Budget, this is not a blank-cheque Budget. This is the start of a tax reform programme over 3 years.

Taoiseach Kenny also denies that the water tax rebate is a response to Saturday’s protests and “the election of Paul Murphy.”

No, not at all.

Okay, so got this?

Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland


Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Earhole of the Budget 2015 liveblog just blown off by a roar from desk…

In, ahem, other news, the Dáil has adjourned until 10.30am tomorrow to discuss more of Budget 2015.

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny thanks Stephen Donnelly TD for saying Budget is “politically strong.”

(Donnelly also said it was “economically weak.”)


And Mary Mitchell-O’Connor is also feeling light-hearted after Budget Day, clearly.

Re. the plinth-climbing car today:

We’re going to wrap it up now for the evening – thanks for being with us for the last 12 hours.

Keep checking in with us on this evening for more on Budget 2015, including our readers’ panel on how it affected them.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be looking at some of the things that this Budget has not touched (the rental market controls, anyone?); the areas that may well fall short (health and mental health services); what else the Government has promised and analysis of that claim today:

Have we really left austerity behind?

Irish budget 2015 Niall Carson / PA Wire Moelesworth Street, across from Leinster House, today. Niall Carson / PA Wire / PA Wire

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