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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019
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Tax cuts and spending hikes: Are we back to the good times?

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

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Everyone’s talking about…

Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin are set to make a spring economic statement in the Dáil this afternoon.

Irish Government cabinet reshuffle Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The finance and public expenditure ministers will outline the amount of money the government will have to pay for tax reductions and spending increases over the next five years: expected to be in the region of €1.2-1.5 billion.

An economic statement six months ahead of the budget is a new departure for Ireland, but the practice is common in other countries such as the UK and France.

All eyes will be on Noonan and Howlin as they set out their stall in what is deemed by many to be the government’s opening move in the general election campaign.

Noonan is expected to indicate changes to income tax rates and the much-hated Universal Social Charge, targetting the ‘squeezed middle’. The Irish Times reports that €2 billion in tax cuts over the next three years is likely.

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has called on the coalition to focus on cuts to the marginal tax rate for all workers and ambitious investment in capital projects, education and innovation.

Fergal O’Brien, Ibec Head of Policy and Chief Economist, said the government should “commit to reducing the punitive marginal tax rate for all workers, actively encourage entrepreneurship and invest much more in the future of the country”.

The SIPTU Health Division Conference â Brendan Howlin Source: graph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Junior minister Ged Nash told Morning Ireland that while “people aren’t going to have additional money in their pockets tomorrow morning”, they will be able to plan their futures better as a result of the statement.

The opposition is, predictably, unimpressed by the noises coming from the coalition, with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams saying the statement is “all about the Fine Gael/Labour government seeking to demonstrate that it is the best austerity pupil in the EU class”.

The Cabinet is due to sign off on the plan this morning before it’s unveiled at 2pm.

The agenda

  • The Cabinet will meet this morning to sign off on the spring statement.
  • Representatives from the Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee will appear before the Transport Committee at 11.30am.
  • Leaders’ Questions will take place at the earlier time of 1.30pm.
  • The Jobs Committee will focus on the potential for jobs in the creative economy – such as TV, film and music (1.45pm and 3pm).
  • As outlined above, the spring economic statement will be read out at 2pm by Michael Noonan. Brendan Howlin will speak at 2.30pm, before the opposition gets the chance to respond: Fianna Fáil (3pm), Sinn Féin (3.45pm) and the technical group (4.30pm).
  • Communications Minister Alex White will answer questions at 5.15pm.
  • Today’s Private Members’ Business will kick off at 6.30pm and focus on a technical group motion on home repossessions.

What the others are saying

  • Several papers report that Michael Noonan is set to meet bank chiefs from the country’s six main mortgage lenders to disucss a reduction in interest rates.
  • The Irish Independent states that Fianna Fáil TDs will confront colleague John McGuinness at a parliamentary party meeting this evening - over his recent criticism of the party.
  • Likely Democratic presidential contender Martin O’Malley, who is Irish-American, has predicted a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, according to the Irish Times.

Inside Leinster House

Gay Marriage Equality Referendums Enda Kenny, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael Yes launch. Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Fine Gael became the latest party to launch a same-sex marriage referendum Yes campaign. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said that a No vote would be worse than losing his Dáil seat. While the Taoiseach essentially ruled out a live TV debate with the No side.

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

Regardless of which way you’re voting in the upcoming referendums, Joe Higgins made a very good point.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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