Opposition parties slam approach to housing and health in Budget 2018

Sinn Féin has warned that it is impossible to address the ongoing crises while at the same time cutting taxes

Opposition parties slam approach to housing and health in Budget 2018

File photo Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, 12-04-2017. Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Opposition parties have lashed out at the government’s record on housing and health following the announcement of budget 2018.

The Minister for Finance announced a range of measures this afternoon aimed at alleviating the housing crisis and improving front-line services – however many in Leinster House believe the measures fall far short of what is required.

Announcing the measures this afternoon, Minister Donohoe said there would be funds available to recruit more nurses, doctors, teachers and gardaí.

Meanwhile measures to tackle to the housing crisis include an extra €1.83bn to construct an extra 3,800 new social homes.

There were also cuts to the USC and a rise in the point of entry to highest rate of income tax.

“You don’t get what it is like"

Speaking following the announcement, Sinn Fein's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty claimed the entire budget is built upon a lie.

He said it is impossible to address the ongoing crises in housing and health while at the same time cutting taxes:

“You don’t get what it is like to have to wait and wait to access hospital services while suffering in pain,” he said.

“You don’t get what it is like to have to wait on a hospital trolley and suffer the loss of dignity that goes with that.

“You don’t get what it is like to be a front-line worker, working in these circumstances.

“And you don’t get what it is like to bring up your kids in a hotel.”

Abysmal failure

Meanwhile Fianna Fail's finance spokesman said the defining feature of this government is its abysmal failure in housing and health.

Michael McGrath admitted his party is committed to the confidence and supply agreement that will allow see Minister Donohoe’s budget approved – but called on the government to get on with its building programme:

“I don’t think anyone can argue that the government’s performance in housing and health is either acceptable or sustainable,” he said.

“We are consistently told by government – especially in housing – that money is not the issue,” he said.

“Well if that is the case, our message for government is very simple; no more press releases; no more policy launches or glossy brochures; just get on with it and build the houses that the people in our country need.”

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on Newstalk’s Budget 2018 special, Labour TD Alan Kelly said the increases in health spending do not go far enough:

“The majority of the capital is absolutely committed now to the Children’s Hospital,” he said.

“If you are going to turn it around in relation to the issues we have with acute services across Ireland; in relation to the waiting lists we see across the country in Galway Limerick and everywhere else ...

“It is because our community and primary care health service isn’t up to scratch.

“We haven’t enough physical resources; we haven’t enough human resources and we haven’t enough services.”

Lack of vision

The Green Party warned that the measures “show no vision for the future of our country” with party leader Eamon Ryan accusing Minister Donohoe of being intent on keeping everything the same.

“It is as if we have learnt nothing from the economic crash. Fine Gael are interested in keeping economic growth going but seem to have no other societal values that they want to promote,” he said.

“This budget follows the same model that Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats set out for years. It is time for a change.”

Squandered opportunities

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said Minister Donohoe had delivered “a budget of squandered opportunities.”

“All in all, this Budget is hugely cautious and devastatingly un-ambitious,” she said.

“Its primary function seems to have been to keep Government partners happy.

“Unfortunately, as was to be expected from this Government, the focus was only on the next General Election and not the next generation.”