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Oops! Leo says Micheál Martin will announce next week's Budget

Leo Varadkar has called on Fianna Fáil to produce a costed list of Budget demands.

ATTEMPTING TO SIDESTEP questions from reporters on the upcoming Budget today, the Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar delivered quite the Freudian slip.

Asked who is writing the social protection Budget, him or Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea, Varadkar replied:

The Budget will be announced next Tuesday by Paschal Donohoe and Micheál Martin…

Oops! 

The slip up perhaps tells us a lot about what type of relationship Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are navigating these days.

Just last month at the opening of Fianna Fáil’s think-in, Martin delivered a similar doozy, stating:

“We’re not in opposition, sorry, we’re not in government, we wanted to be in government and didn’t get the numbers.”

03/10/2016. Fitzgerald and Varadkar to officially Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar officially launch a new financial and legal advice service for holders of distressed mortgages or who are struggling with debt. Source: RollingNews.ie

Varadkar quickly composed himself this afternoon (after having a giggle) and said it would be Finance Minister Michael Noonan who would in fact be announcing the Budget.

‘Kite-flying’

Varadkar quickly launched on Fianna Fáil’s ‘kite-flying’ and said the party had a responsibility to publish a costed list of Budget demands.

Fianna Fáil are “flying kites” and “throwing shapes”, said the minister.

He said he did not have a clear indication as to what Fianna Fáil wanted from this year’s Budget, stating that individual spokespeople for the party are making independent demands in public.

He questioned where they party planned to source the further €100-€200 million he said is needed to continue the suspension of water charges.

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In an interview with TheJournal.ie over the weekend, Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne said water charges would not be making a comeback.

“I can’t possibly see how all these Fianna Fáil promises are going to add up,” he said.

One of Fianna Fáil’s key demands for Budget 2017 is a €5 increase in the old age pension.

The social protection minister said he is not ruling out the increase, stating that it is also in the Fine Gael manifesto. However, he said there are “competing priorities” for funding.

Varadkar said there are significant demands being made this year – for first-time buyers, for health and childcare.

The minister said he is anxious to deliver a “decent welfare package” as well as introduce improvements for the self-employed.

Last month, ministers submitted their wish-list as to what they would like to get in Budget 2017 – and it amounted to about €3 billion. The problem is, there is only about €1 billion available.

Read: “The bills won’t be coming back…water charges are gone” – Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne>

Read: Is the Lansdowne Road pay agreement dead in the water?>

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