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WATCH: With the Dáil chamber nearly empty, Pearse Doherty lets rip

There was some criticism of the lack of government presence in the Dáil as the opposition parties responded to the Budget.

Updated 8.10pm 

THE OPPOSITION PARTIES were not impressed with either the Budget or the lack of government TDs in the chamber as they reacted to the earlier announcement.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming was particularly incensed by the absence of Ministers Micheal Noonan and Brendan Howlin as he delivered his response to the Budget.

At one point we counted just four government TDs in the chamber, including the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as Fleming spoke.

Fleming, the party’s public expenditure spokesperson, said the lack of government presence was indicative of the contempt the coalition holds the national parliament in. He asked:

Are you gone canvassing? Are you nervous again? Is Joan happy with her €3 increase?

Where were they?

We asked a few backbenchers. One suggested they were off writing press releases and announcements tailored to their constituents.

Another cheekily suggested they were in the Dáil bar, although we checked and it was pretty quiet (the non-members bar, anyway)

Meanwhile, many government ministers were off to give briefings to the media on how the various Budget measures affected their own departmental spending plans over the next 12 months.

Explaining their absence, Ministers Noonan and Howlin told a press conference this evening that they intended to be there, but that the statements of sympathy on the weekend tragedies in Carrickmines and Omeath had pushed everything back.

Noonan even apologised for missing the opposition speeches, saying he had hoped to catch Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty’s analysis of the Budget measures.

In the speech that Noonan missed, Doherty told the Taoiseach that inequality is “your badge of honour” and in his lengthy response he, unsurprisingly, excoriated the government’s record.

Towards the end of his speech he became particularly angry about the government’s housing policy. Of the Labour party he said: “Far from putting manners on your coalition partners ye have become more Fine Gael than Fine Gael themselves.”

Then the Donegal TD got really angry:

Source: Oireachtas TV/TheJournal.ie

Like, REALLY angry:

pearse

Dáil statements on the Budget are continuing. Mary Lou McDonald has just delivered this message to Kenny about the election:

You can follow proceedings in our liveblog.

WATCH: The Budget smackdowns that got TDs all rowdy

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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