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Michael Noonan was told to scrap water charges in the Budget. Here's how he took it...

The Finance Minister was upbeat in slapping down the suggestion.

Image: Shuterstock

MICHAEL NOONAN HAS told Sinn Féin that their plan to “build a political movement on the back of misery and failure” will not succeed because the economy is working.

Taking  Leaders’ Questions in the absence of Enda Kenny, Noonan was challenged by Sinn Féin’s Padraig MacLochlainn to “withdraw water charges and give families a real break in the budget”.

The Donegal North East TD told the Government front bench that positive economic figures they heralded last week mean nothing to families that are struggling to pay bills.

He said that, ahead of next month’s budget, the country has been observing, “budget kite flying, shadow boxing and sham fighting between Fine Gael and Labour”.

“You can’t talk about a neutral budget as people are getting forms from Irish Water as we speak,” he said. “They are wondering how the hell they are going to pay them.”

Noonan responded by cracking jokes at Sinn Féin’s expense, saying that that they were acting like “an auld fella walking up and down the boundaries of the ballroom of romance”.

MacLochlainn took exception to Noonan’s jocular tone but the Finance Minster said that he was “making light of Sinn Féin’s pretend economics”.

“If you want to be a serious force in this parliament than at least get some serious people who can add,” he said.

noonAN question Source: Oireachtas.ie

The Finance Minister was referring to Sinn Féin pre-budget submissions which he said had included proposals to raise €7 billion through increased taxes on higher earners.

“If you think that this country can take increased taxes on €7 billion whether it’s from the rich or middle-earners it’s fantasy,” he said.

Noonan also criticised Sinn Féin for “opposing every single measure designed to stimulate the economy”. He accused them of attempting to “build a political movement on the backs of misery and failure.

“But the country isn’t failing, it’s growing,” he said.

During the relatively brief Leaders’ Questions, Noonan was also told by Fianna Fáil’s Sean O’Fearghaill that the Government should directly fund the building of social housing using the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Independent TD Joan Collins also asked the Government about breast cancer screening for women.

Read: Here’s what the Taoiseach has to say about Irish Water and your PPS number >

Read: Why is President Higgins speaking out so often on the issue of homelessness? >

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Rónán Duffy

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