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Howlin: I'm amazed people criticised the spring statement, it's full of 'real meat'

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

The government’s Spring Economic Statement has been criticised by the opposition and several commentators as a stunt and no more than an opening salvo in the general election campaign.

Minister Brendan Howlin as he breaf th Brendan Howlin Source: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Many have questioned the need to disrupt Dáil business for three days to discuss facts that have largely been known for some time. (The statement will be debated again today and tomorrow.)

Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming described the statement as “an extraordinary piece of electioneering” and an opportunity for ministers to “congratulate other ministers and tell the public how great the ministers are doing”.

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the statement was a “set piece”, while his colleague Mary Lou McDonald said it was “grandiose claims that have amounted to nothing”.

Meanwhile, Clare Daly felt a new emotion:

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has staunchly defended the statement. Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said he was “amazed” the opposition have been so critical, saying the document gave the transparency they had been calling for.

Howlin added that the opposition TDs’ remarks were “an amazing spectacle”.

He said the statement sets out the “parameters on which the budget will be built in six month’s time”.

Despite the dismissals, there’s an incredible amount of real meat in [the Spring Statement], for those who want to go through it.

Howlin said he wouldn’t go into budgetary details, but noted the government is looking into restoring some of the payments that have been cut in recent years.

“We didn’t cut anything because we wanted to, we cut because we had to,” he stated.

The agenda

  • Michael Buckley, former Group Chief Executive of AIB and Eugene Sheehy, former Group Chief Executive of AIB/EBS, will appear before the banking inquiry at 9.30am. David Duffy, CEO of AIB, will be questioned at 2.30pm.
  • Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe will be answering questions in the Dáil at 9.30am.
  • Leaders’ Questions is earlier than usual – at 10.45am.
  • TDs will get to debate the Spring Statement again, from 11.06am.
  • The European Affairs Committee will discuss migration policy and the crisis situation in the Mediterranean Sea at 12.15pm.
  • The Disability Federation of Ireland will appear before the social protection committee at 1pm to discuss the difficulties faced by people seeking to establish that they meet medical eligibility criteria when applying for illness or disability-related social protection payments.
  • Jim Brown, CEO of Ulster Bank and Richie Boucher, CEO of Bank of Ireland, will appear before the finance committee at 2pm and 4.15pm respectively. 

What the others are saying

  • Independent Senator David Norris has called for an anomaly in pensions legislation, which prevents gay public servants allocating their entitlements to their partners, to be addressed, according to the Irish Times

Seanad Returns for Gaza Debates David Norris Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

  • Health Minister Leo Varadkar is considering establishing an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of children at a foster home, states the Irish Independent.
  • The same paper reports that right-to-die campaigner Tom Curran has urged the Taoiseach to change the law in relation to assisted suicide.
  • Bus unions have said that Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe’s last-minute intervention ahead of this weekend’s 48-hour strike is “welcome but not enough”, according to the Irish Examiner

Inside Leinster House

As Ministers Noonan and Howlin outlined the Spring Statement, no one seemed to want to be in the chamber.

The opposition looked unimpressed…

… as did the men of the hour:

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

The Siteserv controversy rumbles on…

Originally published: 9am

Tax cuts and spending hikes: Are we back to the good times?

Is Siteserv the coalition’s first wobble of 2015?

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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