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Irish Budget 2015 Source: Niall Carson

Welcome to Budget day on TheJournal.ie.

Today we’ll bring you all the announcements from Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, as well as crunching the numbers on what it means for everybody’s hip pockets.

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

Is it an omen? It was a seriously icy start to Budget day 2016 this morning and temperatures aren’t expected to top 14 degrees as the day goes on. At least it’s unlikely to rain on the Noonan-Howlin parade…

Met Eireann Source: Met Eireann

It’s Peter Bodkin in the chair for the lead-up to today’s main game ahead of Michael Noonan taking centre stage at around 2pm.

We’ll be looking at what’s expected in this year’s Budget, bring you all the announcements as they come to hand and then pull apart the figures to work out what they mean to you.

The customary drip-feed of Budget leaks has already given us the shape of what to expect in this year’s announcement. Here’s a quick recap of what we (think we) know so far:

  • The much-hated USC will be cut. Expect a reduction in the top 7% rate to at least 5.5% and 0.5% reductions in the 3.5% and 1% rates
  • A €5 increase in child benefit. That would bring it back up to €140, the same rate as it was when the government came to power in 2011
  • Further restoration of the Christmas Bonus. The Irish Times has reported this will be worth €168 for singles and €264 for couples
  • Cigarette excise increase. The price on a pack is expected to rise another 50c
  • Minimum wage hike. The base pay rate of €8.65 per hour is predicted to go up 50c in line with the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation
  • Income tax. Nothing firm on this, but it has been tipped the threshold for the top tax rate will be lifted from the current €33,800

So the tax on cigarettes is probably going up, as it does almost every Budget, and another excise increase on booze has been mooted. But what else would you stick a tax on?

Dublin radio station Spin 1038 has been inviting readers to come up with their own ideas and there are a few solid suggestions rolling in:

For the punters out there who don’t enjoy hearing politicians talking deficits and fiscal responsibility, there’s TheJournal.ie’s Budget Bingo 2016.

You can download your cards here to ensure this year’s tax- and spend-fest isn’t an entirely craic-free zone.

Bingo Source: TheJournal.ie

We know the price of cigarettes is likely to jump a hefty 50c per pack after the Budget, but is the talk about tobacco taxes all smoke and mirrors?

Our Dan Mac Guill delved into the facts behind the spin to find out how much difference tobacco taxes really make to smoking rates – and whether they actually bring in the promised cash for the government.

tobacco tax Source: TheJournal.ie

What would you do if you were Michael Noonan or Brendan Howlin and you found yourself with a spare €1.5 billion to play with? Besides lighting cigars with €100 bills, of course. That’s the question we asked our readers with Ignite Research’s People’s Budget.

Out of more than 5,000 respondents, the vast majority wanted the razor taken to income taxes and the cash to be splurged on the country’s creaking health system, as well as education.

Budget1 Source: TheJournal.ie/Ignite Research

There was a strong response when we asked what the one thing you wanted to see in today’s Budget. No prizes for guessing that USC and income taxes featured prominently, while others favoured better services over an extra fiver in their pocket.

One reader, Peter, had plenty to say:

They have me feeling like I’m getting a birthday card with a few quid in it today I DON’T WANT IT. Spend it on getting people off trollies, crime & homelessness. Withdraw legal aid for anyone who has used it twice. Reduce politicians salaries by 35% & let them pay the majority of their expenses just like the rest of us, we would then see who is in it to change the world.”

While Trevor Beale was more succinct:

Stop penalising someone that gets up in the morning to go to work!”

It’s being widely reported this morning that free GP care will be extended in the Budget to cover older children, although the upper age limit isn’t clear.

The Irish Times says the measure will cover all children under 12, while RTÉ claims free visits to the doctor will be limited to the under-11s.

Our political editor, Hugh O’Connell, reports that it’s strangely quiet around Leinster House as it approaches midday given “the day that’s in it”. The number of protesters on hand has swelled by 50% though in the past hour. Here’s the view from the front line:

The car park on the Kildare Street side is mostly empty, with TDs and Senators still travelling up from the country this morning. RTÉ has set up its outside broadcast facilities in the portico leading into LH2000, the newer part of the Oireachtas complex. Outside the gates, the barriers are up and the gardaí are stationed but there was a grand total of three protesters there when we passed it a short time ago.”

It looks like this year’s Budget is going to sit somewhere between an election-buying “splurge” and a “marginal giveaway”, based on a quick international whip around in advance of the announcement.

The Financial Times’ Vincent Boland reports Noonan is expected to “add fuel to the fire” of a growing economy with the expected €1.5 billion stimulus:

As the feelgood factor becomes more obvious and with an election due by the spring, there is arguably nothing the government needs to do as it prepares to go to the polls.”

Over at the Guardian, Henry McDonald writes that “prime minister” Enda Kenny’s government is “widely expected to introduce the first marginal giveaway budget since the crash”.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Joe Brennan reports Noonan will “fire the starting gun in the nation’s election campaign as he unveils the biggest budget giveaway since the Celtic Tiger era ended”.

Premier Enda Kenny’s government has won kudos from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to President Barack Obama for leading the nation out of its worst recession on record, bringing the public finances under control and falling bond yields. With voters largely unimpressed, his coalition is set to further stoke the fastest-growing economy in the euro region even as Kenny promises prudence.”

Merkel visit to Dublin Source: Niall Carson/PA Archive

Not much on the Twitter machine today from Ireland’s political leaders as the Budget storm clouds continue to gather. Even Sinn Féin’s social media-loving leader has been remarkably quiet since last night.

This in the comments from Frainc Ó Broin: “One extra bag of chips per year for me, a giveaway budget indeed!” But will it be Tayto or Hunky Dorys for you Frainc?

Tayto1 Source: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Thanks to the pre-Budget leaks we already knew an increase in the minimum wage was on the way, but further confirmation coming in with a “signing ceremony/photocall” to be held after the speeches are all done.

Wage1

We know plenty about what WILL be in the Budget, but earlier this week Daragh Brophy had a look at a few things that definitely WON’T be there when he flashed back to Brian Cowen’s boom-time speech from a decade ago.

Billion-euro increases to welfare, €1,000 payouts for children under 6 and a huge pledge to take minimum wage workers out of the tax net altogether. Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

Idiot Animated GIF Source: Giphy

It appears the Fine Gael-Labour coalition is at odds about Alan Kelly’s plan to introduce rent controls (sorry Alan, “rent certainty”) as part of the Budget. The move has been flagged for months as accommodation prices, particularly in Dublin, continue to lose the run of themselves.

More from Hugh O’Connell on the mood in Leinster House, where one cabinet minister claimed it was a “terrific” Budget:

They’ve got almost everything they asked for and they were visibly delighted that the government is at last in a position to deliver something back to taxpayers. There’s definitely an optimism among government members this year compared to the fraught budgets of previous years where backbenchers in particular have grappled with their conscience, some deciding to defy their party, others deciding to suck it up and vote with the government.”

Noonan Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A few more highlights of what we can expect in just over an hour, aside from the headline cuts to USC and increases to some welfare benefits:

  • Tax credits for the self-employed to narrow the premium they pay over PAYE workers
  • The even-lower corporate tax rate for the government’s knowledge-development box, aka patent box, to help lure companies to do research and development in Ireland
  • Free GP care for older children up to the age of either 11 or 12, depending on who you ask
  • A home-building package, including grants for developers who sell homes for below market value

And this in from Waterford Whispers. We know how you feel Michael.

Peter is off to have some well-deserved grub so Sinéad O’Carroll here taking over for the last 30 minutes of speculation, guesswork and waiting.

Chat in the office right now while listening to Mary Lou McDonald on RTÉ Radio One:

Imagine if they abolished water charges.

Much of the commentary about today is how it will be a giveaway budget. And, it’s obviously harder to keep ‘good news’ under wraps while looking for votes.

All these leaks makes Budget Day a little less exciting for some, like Annie West above. It’s kind of like finding the Santa presents early, right? We don’t think there are any surprises left. Unless there is still a lump of coal hiding for us somewhere.

The Irish Independent is reporting that the recruitment of 600 new gardaí will be announced later.

After a terrible weekend for the force, it was almost too soon for the GRA to focus on low garda numbers and rural station closures but that will most likely be a welcome piece of news for morale.

Initial reaction from a GP about the extension of the free GP care scheme to children up to the age of 11 or 12… and it’s not positive:

Another tidbit from Hugh O’Connell in Leinster House:

One mischievous Labour TD says the Budget is so good that his former colleague Colm Keaveney, now of Fianna Fáil, is planning to rejoin Labour. We doubt Keaveney would look at it that way.

PastedImage-57950 Source: RollingNews.ie

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Our roving reporter Daragh Brophy was in Buswells this morning, the hotel located just opposite Leinster House to find out what being the unofficial hub of Irish politics means for its owners and management.

Budget Day though is often easier than protest days, as general manager Paul Gallagher revealed:

Another day, there was a demonstration against the removal of horses from county council lands out on the northside.  They all came in with their Piebald ponies and things and hooked them all up to the fence outside. Some of them got scared, and the fence disappeared.

He has even been pelted with eggs himself, he points out. “So it’s an interesting hotel. I was standing in front of a guy I didn’t realise was behind me. They weren’t aiming at me. You have to be careful who’s behind you in this world.”

Read more here>

The photocall is underway with Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin.

Howlin, unsurprisingly, in the red of Labour (tie wise), while the Finance Minister has gone for a grey/silver option*.

*Someone in the office suggested it was champagne-coloured but that would be too Bertie for Noonan, we feel. 

PastedImage-17345 Source: MerrionStreet.ie

And the latest from Leinster House, where the lads are looking THRILLED with themselves.

The Budget documentation has arrived in Leinster House ready to be distributed to TDs, Senators and, of course, us journalists. Outside our office is a Department of Finance official nervously guarding the documentation until he can distribute it as soon as Michael Noonan takes to his feet.

Before the business of the Budget gets underway, the Taoiseach is expressing his sympathies and extending his prayers to the Lynch and Connors families, particularly the two children orphaned in the catastrophic fire in Carrickmines on Saturday.

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Enda Kenny also speaks of the heinous crime which saw Garda Tony Golden lose his life in the line of duty on Sunday evening in county Louth.

Tánaiste Joan Burton also calls the weekend “horrific and desperate”, adding that the events in Omeath and Carrickmines were even more tragic because of the backdrop of what should have been a celebratory weekend for Ireland, with reference to sporting events.

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Following the Taoiseach’s words, Micheál Martin also mentions Garda Tony Golden’s GAA career with Stephenites in Ballina.

He commends him for his bravery and valour, noting that his last act was to help a vulnerable in the line of duty.

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Gerry Adams also stands to pay his respects to the communities “numb with shock and disbelief” after the weekend’s events.

He names each of the victims of the Carrickmines fire and expressed condolences to the entire Traveller community.

“That solidarity has to be extended beyond rhetoric,” he adds, asking government to prioritise living accommodation for Travellers. He also mentions the homeless man who died in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday morning.

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“He is a hero,” Adams says of Garda Tony Golden.

He also has strong words about the shooter, known dissident Adrian Mackin who also took his own life in the shooting incident.

Four years ago, so-called dissidents killed PSNI’s Ronan Kerr. His mother said we all need to stand up and be counted. We don’t want to go back to the dark days of fear and terror. She was right four years ago and she is right again today.

“These groups have nothing to offer society,” he added. “These people are the enemies of Republicanism and the peace process.”

However, there are some grumblings in the Chamber as the Sinn Féin president brings up the issue of alleged political policing among the PSNI and gardaí. He responds saying that these are questions for another day.

A sombre moment…

A minute’s silence is now underway in the Dáil as politicians rise to the feet to pay their respects to the 10 people who died in Carrickmines on Saturday and to Garda Tony Golden who was killed on Sunday.

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“May they rest in peace,” An Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett concludes.

About 30 minutes later than scheduled, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has been called…

And Finance Minister Michael Noonan is on his feet to begin the Budget speech, getting a bit literary with his references to the 1916 Rising as he talks up the economic recovery since the government took office.

Peter Bodkin back in the driver’s seat here from Sinéad O’Carroll to take you through the Budget paces.

Noonan1

“Fastest-growing economy in Europe” – was that one on your Budget Bingo 2016 picks? Noonan got it out of the way early, setting out the Finance Department’s forecast of 4.3% economic growth in 2016.

“The economy has recovered all the output lost during the crisis,” the Finance Minister says, with an extra 43,000 jobs expected this year.

And there we have mention of the end of boom to bust policies, that old chestnut.

Noonan says Ireland’s national debt is expected to fall to just under 93% of GDP by end of 2016, below the European average.

Noonan says this Budget will include €750 million in “revenue relieving measures”, a cost partially offset by a single revenue-raising measure.

That would be the heralded 50c excise increase on a pack of 20 cigarettes, effective from midnight tonight. ”This is the only tax increase in this Budget,” Noonan adds.

And there’s the headline announcement, the expected cuts to USC.

The bottom rate of 1.5% will be reduced to 1%, the second rate from 3.5% to 3% and the next from 7% to 5.5%, while the bands at which they kick in will also be tweaked slightly.

Noonan said it was the first time since April 2009 the top marginal tax rate would be brought under 50% and it was expected some 700,000 income-earners would be outside the USC net altogether.

The tweaks to the tax brackets will mean a single-income family on €35,000 will take home an extra €57 a month, while those working full-time on minimum wage will have an extra €708 per year.

The inheritance tax threshold will also be raised from €225,000 to €280,000.

So wins all around for families, minimum-wage workers… and people inheriting money.

Noonan moves on to the tax perks for businesses, adding he has been consulting with the SME and startup sectors.

One will be a “new earned income tax credit” to the value of €550 for self-employed workers who didn’t have access to the PAYE tax credit and therefore paid significantly higher rates of tax.

“I see this measure as a first step and future steps will be made in future budgets as resources permit,” Noonan says, adding it would benefit small businesses, farmers and tradespeople.

Other business-friendly measures include a cut in the rate of Capital Gains Tax, down from 33% to 20% to a limit of €1 million on business assets that were sold.

The government is also extending three-year tax relief for startups for another three years until end of 2018, while the discount 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector will also stay… for now.

Noonan notes the case for retaining the benefit in the booming Dublin hotel sector “is diminishing each year”.

Shouting and interruptions in the chamber as Noonan announces bad bank Nama will build 20,000 units by the end of 2020.

“Have you got a problem?,” the Finance Minister asks his opponents. They might have to finish this one behind the sheds at break.

Noonan2 Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Institute of Technology, Sligo’s Students’ Union finding ways to enjoy themselves during the Budget speech here.

Bingo2

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin on his feet now as Noonan departs to applause from his government stablemates – and jeers from the opposition benches.

“The days of spending cuts are behind us,” Howlin says as he launches into the rhetoric, paying tribute to “the resilience of the Irish people”.

Howlin launches into a spiel about the ”unnecessary and cruel” cut of €1 per hour to the minimum wage under the previous government.

That’s the lead-in for him to announce the introduction of the predicted 50c increase in the rate, as recommended by the Low Pay Commission. So from January 1, the minimum wage will stand at €9.15 per hour.

Howlin making the pitch to “hard-working parents” now, first off the block: childcare.

Free childcare will be available to children from the age of 3 up to 5 1/2, or whenever they toddle off to primary school.

Child benefit will also be raised €5 to €140 per month thanks to the government’s ”success in reducing unemployment”, Howlin says.

The government will also recognise the ”role of fathers in the household”, with dads getting two weeks of paternity leave from September next year.

And the next piece in the voter pitch, the extension of free GP care to cover all children under 12.

Although Howlin attaches a caveat to that plan – it’s ”subject to successful negotiation with the doctors’ representatives”. Hmmm…

This marks the next phase in the implementation of Universal GP care,” the minister goes on.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the Finance Minister’s “have you got a problem?” moment from earlier. You can take the boy out of Limerick…

More spending plans from Howlin: 600 extra gardaí will be recruited next year, while €414 million will be allocated to social housing.

However the minister has raised a few eyebrows with his priorities, allocating €17 million to emergency accommodation for the homeless, compared to €50 million for “extensive range of events” to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

Howlin winds up with a few jibes aimed at the left-wing elements of the Dáil as he talks up the government’s emergence from the depths of the bailout.

“Who speaks of Syriza now?,” he says amid much jeering from rival TDs.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, on his feet now and he starts with a well-rehearsed one liner:

This budget is the final roll of the dice from a government that has run out of ideas and is about to run out of road.”

He highlights the 1,500 children sleeping in emergency accommodation and 500,000 on hospital waiting lists as among the government’s failings.

I could go on and I regret that I see nothing about his budget that will make a real difference to these people.”

McGrath

That’s Peter signing off, for now. Sinéad O’Carroll taking over again as TDs on the Opposition benches get their chance to highlight what is wrong with today’s Budget.

McGrath continues… telling Brendan Howlin that his comments in relation to housing and accommodation were “nothing short of pathetic”.

In a speech highly critical of today’s “self-congratulatory” announcements, he says Ireland remains vulnerable because of the lack of stability in the global economy.

As McGrath continues his criticism, let’s have a quick recap of the main points from today’s announcements:

  • There have been significant reductions in USC rates which will see workers – on average – earn an extra week’s wages per year. 
  • A 50c increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes was the ONLY tax increase today. A 20-pack will now cost smokers a steep €10.50.
  • The minimum wage will increase by 50c to €9.15 per hour.
  • Child benefit increases by €5 from €135 to €140 per month.
  • Fathers will now get two weeks paternity leave.
  • Free childcare is to be made available for children from age 3 to 5 and a half.
  • A big one for self-employed workers: there is now an ‘Earned Income Tax Credit’ to the value of €550 for those who didn’t have access to the PAYE tax credit.
  • There are no changes to excise duty on alcohol.
  • The 9% VAT rate also remains unchanged.
  • NAMA will build 20,000 homes by 2020.
  • Money is being freed up to recruit and train 600 new gardaí.
  • That €5 charge on ATM cards will be scrapped – but replaced with a 12c ATM transaction charge. Debit card payments will carry no charges.
  • The Christmas Bonus will be increased. Jobseekers on €188 social welfare per week will receive an extra €141.
  • The old age pension has increased by €3 per week.
  • The home carer’s tax credit is to be increased by €190 to €1,000 bringing it back in line with pre-2011 levels.
  • Allocation for emergency accommodation of the homeless is to be increased by €17 million.
  • €50 million has been allocated to the 1916 commemorations. 

For a more detailed look, click here>

The reaction is pouring in.

Despite it being a so-called ‘giveaway’ budget, there is one group of people disappointed. Those under the age of 25 without jobs saw their social welfare cut during the recession. It currently stands at €100 per week and will not be changed in Budget 2016.

The National Youth Council of Ireland says its proposals would have ”supported young people on live register to move into education, training and work experience”.

The Opposition parties are all focussing on homelessness, criticising Howlin and Noonan for not doing enough to ease the current crisis.

From the SocDems Twitter account:

“Splash the cash…”

Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming says that the government is mismanaging the State’s income because it always has extra money in the last two months of the year.

He also asks if today’s extra expenditure is a way to “buy the general election”?

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Then, inevitably, he begins to crunch the homeless numbers. He says that it was quite the achievement that Fianna Fáil turned a housing surplus to a housing shortage.

Modular homes could turn parts of the city into trailer parks, according to Fleming.

We’ve heard a lot about modular housing in recent weeks. What does it mean?

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About 150 factory-built houses (essentially, prefabs) are due to be ordered to help provide accommodation for Dublin’s homeless.

Back to the Dáil.. 

Fleming is having a real go over the disappearance of ministers who have all left the house to hold media briefings in their departments.

Are you gone canvassing? Are you got nervous again? Is Joan happy with her €3 increase?” he asks.

He says it is a sign of the contempt Fine Gael and Labour hold for the parliament.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty now takes to his feet – it’s his turn to rip into the announcements made today.

“Along comes the boom, then followed by the bust,” he says, telling the government that its plans are not sustainable.

The Taoiseach is still facing him, but nobody else from Cabinet.

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We should have included the 1916 heroes in our Budget Bingo. Doherty is not the first to ask if the men and women from the Easter Rising would be happy with what they see in Ireland today.

Was it for this…etc?

From next year, Irish schools will have 2,260 more teachers. That’ll be broken down as:

  • 300 primary school teachers
  • 550 secondary school teachers, guidance counsellors and principals
  • 810 mainstream teachers
  • 600 resource teachers

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The SocDems haven’t got a chance to talk in the Dáil yet, but they’re doing their best to rip the Budget to shreds on Twitter.

Earlier, we weren’t *quite* sure what colour Michael Noonan’s tie was. We went for grey/silver/champagne but there were some shouts that it was brown.

What do you think?

Irish Budget 2015 Source: Niall Carson

As usual, Paddy Power took bets on what colour the Finance Minister would wear on his neck but even the experienced bookies couldn’t make out the hue.

So, they just paid everybody who placed a bet.

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pd2

Pearse Doherty has dialled up the anger big time when talking about homelessness and income inequality in the Dáil.

He is calling strongly for a national emergency to be declared.

His ire is directly mostly at Labour, saying they have forgotten their roots and have become Fine Gael’s biggest champions.

“You have become more Fine Gael than Fine Gael themselves,” he tells Joan Burton.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald takes the stand now – and sticks to the party line that Fine Gael has a friend in the Tories in the UK and Angela Merkel in Germany.

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A joint press release – Department of Health giving equal credit to Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Labour’s Kathleen Lynch for “securing substantial increase in health budget”.

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Election, anyone?

We’re already getting some international coverage – but it’s not positive. A headline on the New York Times today:

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In their story, Douglas Dalby and Mark Scott write:

The Irish government, long criticized by other European countries and the United States for its friendly tax treatment of multinational giants like Apple and Google, on Tuesday announced a move that seemed likely to further incense its critics.

It’s now the turn of EVERYONE ELSE in the Dáil. They’ll all just get five minutes each – and they’re insisting on a clock.

Stephen Donnelly is up first… and, yes, the first thing on his agenda is housing.

He says that the tax cuts benefit the highest-earning homes. He believes the mistakes of the past are being repeated.

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Ruth Coppinger calls the speaking time situation “ridiculous” as she tries to finish a sentence but the Ceann Comhairle insists she sit down and not to be selfish.

So as they mutter to themselves, Paul Murphy takes the stand to call today’s Budget Fine Gael’s fifth regressive budget.

For the average worker, he said, their extra €5 will go to pay their water charges (if they pay them).

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Paul Murphy also takes issue with the ‘knowledge box’ which he insists is just another way to further reduce rates of corporation tax.

“The only beneficiaries are the multinationals,” he says.

Meanwhile, IDA Ireland is delighted with the development.

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Clare Daly says today is an example of the disconnect between Leinster House and reality. She adds that it is an exercise in robbing from Peter to pay Paul.

“They thought you represented a different Ireland but you’ve turned out to be the same,” she told Labour and Fine Gael.

Clare Daly makes a point:

Those 700,000 people who no longer have to pay USC… what does that mean? They live on €13,000 or less a year.

ross

“I am astounded at the unreality at what we are presented with today. There are few people who remember 1977. Fianna Fáil bought themselves back into government… this is exactly what is happening again,” Shane Ross begins his five minutes.

This is the beginning of the next artificial boom, tailored to various interest groups.

It is a budget for Fine Gael, he adds.

Mick Wallace sounds totally put out about the plan for Nama – the bad bank – to turn developer and build 20,000 housing units.

He pleads with the government to build social housing, saying that the private sector cannot solve the problem. Especially considering that private developers cannot compete with Nama or US vulture funds.

mwq

Before we take our leave… here’s another quick recap of what went down today. You decide: foolish, giveaway budget or

  • There have been significant reductions in USC rates which will see workers – on average – earn an extra week’s wages per year.
  • 50c increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes was the ONLY tax increase today. A 20-pack will now cost smokers a steep €10.50.
  • The minimum wage will increase by 50c to €9.15 per hour.
  • Child benefit increases by €5 from €135 to €140 per month.
  • Fathers will now get two weeks paternity leave.
  • Free childcare is to be made available for children from age 3 to 5 and a half.
  • A big one for self-employed workers: there is now an ‘Earned Income Tax Credit’ to the value of €550 for those who didn’t have access to the PAYE tax credit.
  • There are no changes to excise duty on alcohol.
  • The 9% VAT rate also remains unchanged.
  • NAMA will build 20,000 homes by 2020.
  • Money is being freed up to recruit and train 600 new gardaí.
  • That €5 charge on ATM cards will be scrapped – but replaced with a12c ATM transaction charge. Debit card payments will carry no charges.
  • The Christmas Bonus will be increased. Jobseekers on €188 social welfare per week will receive an extra €141.
  • The old age pension has increased by €3 per week.
  • The home carer’s tax credit is to be increased by €190 to €1,000 bringing it back in line with pre-2011 levels.
  • Allocation for emergency accommodation of the homeless is to be increased by €17 million.
  • €50 million has been allocated to the 1916 commemorations. 

For a more detailed look, click here>

That’s all from the Liveblog. Thanks for joining us, leaving comments, sending tweets and keeping us company through that long day.

A special shout-out to Tayto for sending us an enormous amount of Tayto (obviously) to get us through the day. The office smells accordingly.

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Some day, hopefully we’ll see the USC and the wine tax off. But for now, good night and good luck.

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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