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Simon Harris said it "certainly isn't annoying" that these discussions are happening in public. Alamy Stock Photo
budget 2024

Harris believes tax article did not breach trust in the coalition amid heightening tensions

The Justice Minister said he thinks it was “perfectly appropriate” for the junior Minsters to give their views publicly.

AN INTERNAL ROW over tax breaks in Budget 2024 continued within the government coalition today after Green Party leader and Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan said these discussions should be “behind closed doors”.

The row began after an opinion piece, penned by Fine Gael junior ministers Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Martin Heydon and Peter Burke, in the Irish Independent called for the Budget to contain tax breaks of up to €1,000. 

Speaking today, Eamon Ryan said: “I think the public would get rightly annoyed if we just spent the next four months doing the budget negotiations in public.”

Ryan said that if the government were to continue it would “only confuse people”.

Speaking on Virgin Media’s Tonight Show this evening, Minister for Justice and Higher Education Simon Harris said it “certainly isn’t annoying” that these discussions are happening in public.

Harris added that he believes that the government should tell the public what they already know is certain in Budget 2024.

“We know that the budget will contain a package around welfare supports including the pension and we know that the budget will contain a package for public spending. They are core components of the budget,” Harris added.

The Justice Minister said he thinks it was “perfectly appropriate” for the junior Minsters to give their views publicly.

“I’m of the view that it’s perfectly appropriate to articulate what is clear Fine Gael policy,” the minister told host Claire Brock.

Harris added, “By the way, if Fianna Fáil or the Greens, indeed any political party, wants to do that I would have the same view.”

Ryan said that promising the public what will be included in Budget 2024 will not “serve the Irish people”.

“We have to deliver in October rather than promise between now and then,” Ryan added.

Yesterday, Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said he will not be bullied by Fine Gael TDs who are trying to include tax cuts in Budget 2024 and denied any claims that he was subject to bullying.

Finnna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers on Tuesday slammed the junior ministers for their move, calling the ideas in their article “populist” and that an extra €1,000 in everyone’s pocket sounds “lovely”.

Ryan said: “There’s a huge variety of things we need to consider and the budget’s always about getting the balance right between varying interests.

“You’re best doing that, not on the national airwaves, but in a collaborative way,” Ryan added.

Harris said he thinks the article published by the junior Ministers is not a breach of trust between Fine Gael and their coalition partners and that he thinks “all three parties are working very well together”.

“What my colleagues were doing was putting forward ideas as to how they believe putting tax cuts forward could help,” the Justice Minister added.

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