Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has said that Fine Gael and Labour deputies who have been wrestling with their consciences in public since the budget was announced will face a very simple test this week.
 
Deputy Martin commented, “Budget 2013 is a badly constructed document that takes no account of people’s ability to pay, does nothing to encourage growth and puts further pressure on already badly squeezed middle income families. It also breaks a long list of Government party promises.  Gradually, the penny has begun to drop with Government TDs that they share joint responsibility for this awful budget and they have queued up to go on media to wrestle with their consciences.
 
“Within the Labour Party in particular, there has been an unedifying parade of representatives muttering darkly about the need for ‘processes’ and ‘consultation’ to change a budget they initially rushed to welcome.
 
“They need not worry.  There is already a process in place to do exactly that.  It’s called the Dáil debate on the Social Welfare Bill.  Fianna Fáil will use its position to force a vote on each of the sections of this Bill which further erode the quality of life and social protection of the most vulnerable, along with the measures that take no account of ability to pay.  We will therefore be forcing votes on among others, the following issues:
 
– the cut to child benefit
– the cut to Respite Care Grant
– the cuts to the Farm Assist Programme
– the flat rate increase to PRSI affecting all income earners the same
 
“This will be a very simple test for those who claim in public to be unhappy with the budget that Fine Gael and Labour Leaders have cobbled together.  They can show their constituents and the rest of the country that while the leaders of their parties may have been prepared to say anything to achieve power, they at least meant what they promised.
 
“If the Government had taken our suggestion of adding 3% to the USC charge to income over €100,000 and changes to pension tax relief for the country’s highest earners, most of these deeply unfair measures would have been completely unnecessary.”