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State of the Nation

What are these two men about to give us all?

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

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Everyone’s talking about…

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THE KITES HAVE been flown, the messages sent out, the talking and bargaining done.

Today at 2.15pm, the Finance and Public Expenditure Ministers will deliver the 2016 Budget, the last before the general election.

With just hours to go, here’s what we know:

A cut in the much-maligned Universal Social Charge will be the centrepiece of what the government hopes will be a “recovery budget”.

There will likely be an increase in the minimum wage and the threshold at which the higher tax band kicks in, as well as an increase in child benefit. There may also be a boost for parents of pre-school aged children.

The government will have some extra spending power thanks to better-than-expected exchequer returns, which will mean the partial restoration of the Social Protection Christmas bonus.

On the “old reliables”, expect to see a 50c increase in the excise duty on cigarettes, but nothing on drink.

Enda Kenny says there is no schism between Environment Minister Alan Kelly and his finance colleague Michael Noonan on the issue of funding for housing.

Speaking as he entered the cabinet meeting this morning, the Taoiseach said:

“The Minister for Housing and the Minister for the Environment are obviously looking at a package of measures that will deal with the question of the supply side of housing which is the real problem here.

“Obviously there are discussions between the Minister for Finance as to how that may be made possible without interfering with the market to its disadvantage.”

The agenda

  • The cabinet meets to finalise the Budget from 8am.
  • The Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality resumes discussions on the new Garda Síochána Bill at 12.30pm.
  • There will be expressions of sympathy for the victims of the Carrickmines fire tragedy and Garda Anthony Golden from 2pm.
  • After that, around 2.15pm, Michael Noonan will take to the floor to deliver his speech, followed by Brendan Howlin.
  • Speeches will wrap up within four and a half hours and financial resolutions will carry on until 12am at the latest.
  • Seanad Commencement Matters kick off at 1pm.
  • The Seanad will hear Budget statements from 5pm.

Inside Leinster House

STE Hugh O'Connell / TheJournal.ie Hugh O'Connell / TheJournal.ie / TheJournal.ie

The Social Democrats released their pre-Budget submission yesterday, but Labour’s Michael McCarthy wasn’t impressed. He says the party “needs a lesson in social democracy”. Miaow.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Times reports that the old-age pension will be increased by €3 a week today.
  • The Irish Independent says that some members of the government are unhappy with the Taoiseach over the confusion about when a general election will be held.
  • The same paper says that Fine Gael TD Derek Keating welcomed a funding award to a local football club, months after he formally objected to the plan.

In case you missed it…

Good day for…

Canvassers. Party members up and down the country were spared the prospect of traipsing around the towns of the country in November as the Taoiseach says the election will be in the spring. Probably.

Bad day for…

John Perry. The former junior minister could be “finished” according to one Fine Gael party source as the party searches for candidates in Sligo-Leitrim.

On the Twitter machine…

Gerry Adams had more important things to do yesterday, obviously.

Read: All the breaking news from today’s Budget 

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