Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Sam Boal
Budget Talks

Micheál Martin says there would 'need to be' a carbon tax in Budget 2020

A climate change focus in the Budget will be necessary, said Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

AS BUDGET TALKS commence today between Fianna Fáil and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Micheál Martin says a carbon tax and further health service investment should be pushed. 

Speaking this morning, Martin said said a climate change dimension will be necessary in the 2020 Budget along with improving access to healthcare services. 

The Cork TD said there would “need to be” a carbon tax in the upcoming Budget. No such tax was brought in as part of last year’s Budget. 

Parties have been preparing their policies lately before the new political season begins  in the Dáil later this month. 

“For us, prioritisation has to be in investment in services. The health service is imploding at the front line,” Martin said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today. 

Martin added that “there would have to be a climate change dimension to the Budget” for 2020. 

“We believe there has to be [a carbon tax],” he said. 

A €10 increase in carbon tax has been the figure used since last year. Donohoe included a note in pre-budget submissions last year saying he was “currently minded” to implement a €10 increase on Budget day. 

Martin said today that this ”could be less than 10, it could be five or six euro”. 

Speaking to last year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that implementing a carbon tax last year would have “hit people with a double whammy” and wiped out any benefits people received through tax cuts elsewhere.  

“It will mean an increase certainly in certain fuel costs but in our view, the overwhelming evidence has been… that we have to start dealing and making fossil fuels in particular over time a less attractive to people,” he added. 

The money gained from the carbon tax should be “ringfenced into a separate fund” used for activities on climate change and biodiversity, said Martin. 

“We will be setting goals… but ultimately the government has to deliver,” he said. 

2020 general election? 

In terms of an election, the party leader said it will likely take place next year. Martin added that he believes it was the right decision to not hold a general election earlier, mainly due to Brexit uncertainty. 

“There can’t be an election if the prospect of a no-deal is there on the horizons,” he said. 

“Our preference is to be the lead party in a government with smaller parties… I think there will be a fragmented Dáil in the next election”, Martin said, adding that the ‘two-party system’ of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is “gone”. 

Martin said there will need to be an emphasis on the provision and investment of services in the 2020 Budget. He said access to health services can be “very difficult for too many people”. 

Services such as home help and home care packages and the fair deal should also be focused on in terms of investment. 

“We are frustrated by the failure of government in health and Brexit and other areas,” he said. 

“Our priority is to make sure there is sufficient service to make sure people can get access to healthcare services.” 

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