The Government is being accused of engaging in ‘Bertienomics’ as it prepares to launch its €450m cost-of-living support package.
Senior ministers will today sign off on the plan, aimed at addressing rampant inflation that has left many people struggling to make ends meet.
The plan includes more than €200m to give every home in Ireland a once-off payment to help them pay their energy bills.
Other measures are expected to be more targeted at people who need the most help and will likely include an extension of the fuel allowance.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government understands that people are struggling.
He noted that October’s budget also included a €1bn package to ease cost-of-living pressures – and insisted Government was acting again now that it is clear, “inflation is higher than we thought it would be”.
Opposition parties have been criticising the package even before it is announced however, with Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty warning that it will only scratch the surface for struggling families.
Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the Government was engaged in ‘Bertienomics’.
“You are trying to convince people that you can cut their taxes and tinker around with the public service and it will all be fine,” he said.
“What the Labour Party suggested to you is that you shouldn’t have tax cuts. You think that is an easy thing for an opposition party to say but it isn’t.
“We are telling the people of Ireland straight that if we want a proper decrease in the cost of living, the State should provide it and not actually wait for the market to provide solutions in rent or solutions in childcare and not be married to the market as much as you are.
“We in the Labour Party are saying, we don’t want to play cheap politics. We don’t want to do the auction stuff of tax cuts. We actually do believe in State intervention but what you are trying to do is have cheap political jibes while people are still battling for bread and milk and butter.”
Minister Varadkar insisted that no matter what the Government announced, the opposition would criticise it.
“You don’t even know what we are going to announce and you’ve already said it is not enough,” he said.
“The press release is already written. The lines have already been sent out to your TDs and Senators and councillors; no matter what the Government does, you’re going to say it is not enough – because promises are cheap.
“When you’re in opposition, when you don’t have to make decisions, promises are cheap but they’re not honest.”
He also took aim at the Labour Party’s previous stint in Government – despite the fact it was in coalition with his own Fine Gael party.
“We all know what your party did in Government and it wasn’t give money back to people, it was take it off them,” he said.
The package will be announced following a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Economic Recovery this evening.