The reports today that the Fianna Fáil Public Expenditure spokesperson wants the budget to focus on living costs comes two years too late for many Irish people. The comments are a timely conversion however I’d like to know if it is supported by the Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath. In the total confusion that now reigns on Brexit, Ireland needs to be cautious on any tax cuts as we are now entering uncharted waters.
The Labour Party has argued for the last two years that the focus should be on addressing the cost of living for Irish people, rather than on token tax cuts that barely cover the cost of a cup of coffee.
When they could have made a significant difference, they failed to argue for investment in public services, and instead demanded tax cuts. Those funds could have made a substantial difference to funding affordable childcare, investing in our health service, tackling the two-tier pay system, and reducing the costs of sending children to school.
As far back as 2016, Labour proposed a bill to cap rents at the rate of inflation. FF abstained on that bill ensuring the Government could vote it down. In the meantime rents have risen to record highs.
For this year’s budget, FF has also agreed to the Government’s fiscal stance, meaning €500 million will be locked away in a Rainy Day Fund instead of investing in affordable housing, while a further €900 million of fiscal space will be left unspent.
For Irish people struggling to meet the ever rising costs of living, Fianna Fáil’s latest sharp about turn on tax cuts is welcome but the conversion is a little late.