Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

13.55 11 Oct 2020


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Budget 2021 is being finalised by the Government this weekend and is expected to be the largest budget package in the history of the State.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe revealed on Friday that there will be a €21bn budget deficit this year - a huge sum but considerably less than had been feared.

Finance Spokesperson for Sinn Féin Pearse Doherty said the party wants to see significant expenditure on COVID-related measures in Budget 2021, but also initiatives to stimulate the economy.

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The TD for Donegal South West told On The Record With Gavan Reilly that the Government has made mistakes "time and time again" during the pandemic.

With regard to the upcoming budget, he said: "There are two things than need to happen here.

"We have to keep the lights on in terms of expenditure that is COVID-related, so that's the €9bn the Government has outlined.

"But we also now have to stimulate the economy.

"What we've outlined is a net expenditure above the COVID-related expenditure of €6bn.

"Crucially what that does, some of it is one-off, but most of it is about supporting jobs and businesses and supporting incomes.

"What it also does, and what we can do here to give people hope, is we can do things differently from they way here were done in the past.

He added: "We can deal with the housing crisis by investing now in major capital projects, building 20,000 homes over 2021.

"We can build in the capacity that should have been built over the last ten years in terms of hospitals, that's why we're arguing for 1,100 additional net beds and 100 ICU beds."

Mr Doherty said "these are the things that can be done and should be done".

He said: "Hopefully if the Government do them, I'll stand up and welcome them but I know this is a Government that has always been on the side of the banks, of the insurance industry.

"I've seen them time and time again make the wrong decisions by cutting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, by cutting the supports for employers at the time of a pandemic.

"They're the wrong decisions and if they continue to make them I will stand up and call them out."

COVID-19

Mr Doherty said it was "clear that other interventions are required" to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 nationwide and this will "inevitably" include further restrictions.

He said: "While there are a number of phases set out in the plans from one to five, sometimes the virus doesn't wait for you to go through those phases.

"I think the public health advice should be listened to...but yes, of course, questioned and interrogated.

"Nobody, I don't care which party you're from, wants to see the state go into further levels of restrictions.

"However, we need to ensure we keep people safe and keep our economy safe and sometimes the best way of doing that is having restrictions in place for a short period of time."

Mr Doherty said the state is "not prepared for Level 5", particularly with regard to supports for employers.

He added that there should be an all-island approach to tackling the virus.

He said: "Having one set of restrictions on one side of the border and a completely different scenario on the other side is not good for anybody, the virus doesn't accept the border.

"On the island of Ireland, we deal with animal health as an all-Ireland issue, we need to treat human health and dealing with the virus as an all-Ireland issue."

Government has made mistakes 'time and time again' during pandemic

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Main image: Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty. Photo: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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