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Reprieve for government as Finance Bill scrapes through

The government bags a crucial victory on the Finance Bill after independents offer support in exchange for big amendments.

FIANNA FÁIL has been handed a crucial reprieve by the Dáil’s independent TDs, after they voted in favour of the Finance Bill to ensure its progress in the Dáil this lunchtime.

After voting to reject a number of opposition amendments to the Bill – which gives permanent legal status to the proposals brought in under the Budget last month – the Dáil voted to approve the Bill, and separately to defeat proposed opposition amendments, by 80 votes to 77.

Independents Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae were among those supporting the Bill; their support had been earned after Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan gave last-minute guarantees that he would propose a sequence of amendments in the Dáil today and tomorrow.

Among those amendments are the withdrawal of the government’s plan to bring forward the deadline for tax returns from the self-employed, and a guarantee that parents paying college fees for more than one child can have the secondary fees taken off their tax bill.

Mattie McGrath, however, abstained on the Bill, having voted with the opposition on earlier amendments.

In a statement issued shortly before the voting began, Lowry said the government had already conceded to his request that medical card holders be exempt from the new Universal Social Charge.

The most prominent amendment, however, is the concession from the government that it will rush through an amendment imposing a 90 per cent tax on bonuses paid to the staff of banks covered under the government’s blanket guarantee.

Lowry commented that it was “appalling and unacceptable” that the tax had not appeared in the Bill’s original draft, but laid the blame for the omission at the feet of the opposition parties.

Two Government TDs – Dermot Ahern and Noel Treacy – were paired for the vote; they were paired by Fine Gael’s Padraic McCormack and Michael Creed.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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