Today’s budget is an important moment for centre ground politics. It is an opportunity to continue on a fairer route to how the state delivers services for citizens and gives working people a much needed break. It is a chance to build policies founded on sustainable finances.
It is an important day for practical politicians. There are politicians who see problems and debate the problems. Then there are those of us who see problems and debate and implement a solution.
Fianna Fáil has left its print on this budget.
We have stood up to the mark to ensure this country has a stable government in these uncertain times.
But not at any price.
We have worked since February 2016 to emphasize investment in services –particularly in housing, in health, in mental health, in education at all levels, childcare and in improving the social and capital condition of communities whilst all the time focusing tax reductions on low and middle income earners. The minimum 2:1 split of services to tax cuts has been the hall mark of our policy and has fundamentally set the parameters of this budget. The right wing US style taxes of Fine Gael were rejected by the electorate in 2016 – Fianna Fáil through our Confidence and Supply agreement has ensured that in its place an emphasis on fairness and building up our public services and communities have taken priority.
The Confidence and Supply arrangement is not a document created by spin doctors – in fact it is directly responsible for a wide range of measures including:
– €5 increase in the pension and working age payments-the second year in a row that this has been achieved and targeted packages for some of those most disadvantaged & the phased reversal of cuts in phone allowances and fuel allowances
– Extra resources for housing and homelessness and a focus on actually delivering instead of announcing, signified by the increase in resources today but also by legislation such as that on vacant properties introduced by Fianna Fáil last week
– The €55m National Treatment Purchase Fund, which if properly used can give those waiting on our surgical waiting lists a chance at treatment
– The first proper investment in our Mental Health services that will actually deliver on the vision of A Vision for Change instead of aspiring to deliver on them
– A Reduction in the Drug Payment scheme which will reduce medicine bills for working families and those with chronic conditions
– Further Reductions in prescription charges
– A reduction in the Pupil Teacher Ratio at primary school level, which in addition to the planned demographic related increases in teacher numbers, will begin the process of making our primary school classes smaller
– Expanded Guidance counsellor numbers in our secondary schools assisting students with career choices
– Greater Post Graduate Grant accessibility for those seeking opportunities at 4th level
– A greater investment in Local & Regional Roads and in community facilities through Leader, Clár and Rapid
– An investment of €25m in the ANC program assisting those farmers who farm in the most naturally disadvantaged of conditions
– Tacaiocht breise don na h-eagraiochtai a ta ag obair leis ar d-teanga duchas
– The establishment of a Public Service Pay Commission which has delivered a sustainable package of pay rises to public servants and offers a pathway for pay equalisation for new entrants
These are clear measures that show that Fianna Fáil’s participation in Confidence and Supply is delivering for people across this island.
Our decision to participate in Confidence & Supply was taken last year against the backdrop of the challenge set for politicians by the people through their voting patterns in that year’s election.
That challenge was against the backdrop of the enormously difficult decade that Ireland has endured.
The challenge was to provide political stability in an unstable world – a challenge that became even more urgent in the context of the BREXIT result which came later last year.
The challenge was to ensure that the political stability would be used to place fairness in our society and giving working people a break as central planks in policy delivery.
Fianna Fáil – unlike others in this house – chose not to run away from that challenge but take it on. In this budget – as in the last one – we have delivered.
In contrast, the tired old script of those parties who ran from their electoral responsibilities in 2016 is all tip and no iceberg.
It’s important to remember that today is not simply about the €1bn or so of new measures and changes. It’s about the €60bn the state spends every year. How our public service invests, ensures value for money and delivers services is key to building a state that citizens can have faith in.
Delivery is the key to showing citizens that politics works. Today’s fanfare will be tomorrow’s faded newspaper. What matters is the delivery of services and reform on the ground. The state must be able to show the capacity to support people to reach their potential and help those who have fallen on hard times. It must be able to build ladders of opportunity and a strong safety net for those who do not make it.
Budget 2018 does not begin and end this week with a series of speeches and media debates. It must be rigorously implemented over the coming year. The Confidence and Supply arrangement is founded on delivery in progressing the key objectives of the document. At times over the past 12 months this has meant robust exchanges and meetings on central issues – away from the media focus that is budget day. For example, discussions around Housing, Mental Health funding and ex-quota guidance councillors have been significant concerns. I am confident we have made real progress on these matters but will continue to vigorously review and uphold the details of the arrangement in full.
Not only is this Budget Day it is World Homeless Day. A reminder – not that we need it – that the housing crisis is the most serious issue facing the country.
It is both an economic challenge and a moral imperative.
Over 130,000 households languish on the Social Housing waiting list. The country is experiencing the highest rents on record while house prices are rapidly growing beyond the reach of ordinary working people. The homelessness scandal is a scar on our cities and towns with some 8,000 people in emergency accommodation. It has been a central focus of our budget talks.
The dream of owning a home is becoming more and more distant to more and more people. In spite of growing employment figures, young workers feel further away from their own home than ever. We need to allow them to believe in that dream again.
The Fine Gael record on building homes is abysmal. Since 2011, the State has built just 4,000 new social houses, which is fewer than Fianna Fáil built in almost every single year from 1994 to 2009.
If plans, spin and announcements were houses we would not have a problem.
The issue now is delivery.
Under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Government has committed to capital ceilings of €1,113m for 2018, €1,164m for 2019 and €1,154m for 2020. Today’s announcement goes a little beyond that. The critical concern is actual drawdown and spending of that money. It’s time to get Local Authorities building again.
Success will not be counted on the balance sheet, it will be counted with bricks and mortar on the ground.
The additional current expenditure on HAP -€148m- and the additional allocation to homelessness organisations are much needed measures to alleviate a crisis that is felt across the country.
The development of a carrot and stick approach with a ramped up vacant site levy to drive on development is badly needed. However, capital spending and building homes – both social and affordable – is the key to cutting through this crisis. That is the test that matters. We will hold the government to account on this.
For those that own a house and are paying a mortgage, our insistence on an extension of Mortgage Interest Relief will mean that 420,000 mortgage holders will avoid an effective mortgage payment increase from January.
Morale in our health services is on the floor and recruitment remains a serious impediment to achieving the personnel levels we need.
Some 680,000 people languish on hospital waiting lists.
Glib comments about record levels of funding are not the way to address these challenges.
Both extra resources but also managerial and HR policy changes are needed to reform our health service, to respect not only the people who work in our health service, but their talents too and to bring our health service up to scratch for 21st century Ireland.
The all party Oireachtas committee Sláintecare report, published in May, sets out a clear 10 year roadmap to a fairer, more effective system.
The €55m allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund must be focused on surgeries. Targeting medical procedures such as hip replacements, cataracts etc is an important part of ensuring every euro goes towards slashing waiting lists. The NTPF has delivered. There are those in this house who seem to want to leave people on those lists in pursuance of a political model of healthcare delivery. We prefer to get people off the waiting lists and out of pain.
For working families and those with long term & chronic conditions, the reduction in the Drug Payment Scheme threshold and in the prescription charge is a welcome step towards alleviating daily and weekly health costs. In keeping with the Sláintecare report recommendations this should be the start of an overall elimination programme.
Boosting Personal Assistance hours and disability services is crucial to giving people with a disability a genuine pathway to inclusion. This will be an area that will be the subject of post budget engagement on our part and we will aim to ensure that this year’s HSE Service Plan will reflect our priorities in this area.
Similarly the cuts in Home Help Hours and in Home Care packages during the recession are a key factor in overcrowding in hospitals today. The HSE adapts a penny wise pound foolish approach to home help hours and home care packages – saving pittance on restricting hours, yet is forced to spend millions on emergency measures to alleviate hospital trollies.
In Mayo alone there are 142 families for whom home help hours have been approved but for which there is no funding available. That situation is replicated across the country and many of these people will end up on a hospital trolley in the coming months.
Again we are putting the HSE on notice of our intention to see substantial improvements in Home Help Hours and Home Care packages in their 2018 service plan.
There needs to be a focus on addressing the HR challenge in our health services. We have hundreds of vacancies in many areas including Nursing, Therapies, Surgery etc.
Those working within it are often working under HR practices that belong in a previous era. Pay is one issue preventing people taking up positions but by no means the only one. The Public Service Pay Commission needs to be robust in addressing not only pay factors that are causing vacancies but also the HR practices.
These vacancies are causing tremendous hardship for those patients and their families that are dependent on their services.
The gap in many of these state provided services is made up by what are known as Section 39 organisations.
Section 39 organisations include disability service providers, hospices and care centres. The government’s response to this issue has been dismissive, evasive and in some cases downright arrogant. These organisations provide vital services to our communities throughout the country. Without these organisations the State would have to step in and spend far more for the provision of these services.
During the crisis the grants to these organisations were cut. This, like the FEMPI legislation, was a budgetary measure that was required. The HSE instructed these organisations to pass on the cuts to their staff. We have seen the evidence of this. In other words employees should be treated the same as public sector employees in the publicly owned Section 38 organisations. Now that pay restoration is upon us the Government have performed a U turn. The Government now says that this matter is a matter for the HSE and not the government. These workers deserve better than such financial gymnastics.
Fully implementing A Vision for change demands an additional €35m this year.
This is building on the extra €35m factored into the base from 2017. Our mental health services have long been the Cinderella of our health system. These additional resources have stepping stones in reaching our goal of implementing “A vision for Change” in full.
In addition, our securing of additional guidance teachers for schools will assist in tackling teenage mental health challenges at school level.
We will continue to tightly monitor spending on Mental Health. On World Mental Health Day we have a duty in this Oireachtas to act on Mental Health as well as talk about it.
Building up a strong education system is central to equipping the next generation for the challenges of the future.
The Confidence & Supply arrangement emphasised a series of measures to address deficits in our system. We have made significant progress across a number of areas. The reduction of the Pupil Teacher ratio by one point is a welcome step in achieving the arrangement’s commitment to reducing primary class sizes.
The broadening out of access to post graduate grant supports was a key goal for Fianna Fáil. The changes in the thresholds are a welcome step towards a full restoration and expansion of access to help low income students achieve their full potential.
The additional funding for Third Level and Further education is welcome but €47m of it is being funded by a levy on employment. Yes – employers benefit greatly from our third and further level education system. But Government cannot entirely leave the resolution of funding challenge for third level to the business sector – it has to step up to the mark itself.
It also needs to outline how it intends to fund a comprehensive and ambitious apprenticeship scheme. Capital Expenditures are a key pillar of this budget. We will need people to deliver this. An apprenticeship scheme and a re-training scheme will provide a pathway to doing this.
The continued restoration of ex-quota guidance councillors is a positive development that will help students in schools across the country. Having an independent voice to offer support and information across a wide range of areas is the core role of a guidance councillor. The Fine Gael/Labour government’s decision to slash them was a deeply retro grade step. The boost to their numbers is welcome but must be rolled out on an ex-quota basis. This is an area that we will be focusing on post budget.
The education sector in particular is affected by the disparities in pay for new entrants since 2011. This is a serious point of division within staff rooms across the country and is undermining morale and confidence within our education system. We must have the Public Service Pay Commission report in advance of Budget 2019 to allow us make headway on this issue.
We welcome the changes announced in the ECCE scheme in this budget and the extra resources for Tusla.
We now need to ensure that ECCE is achieving what it set out to and not resulting in displacement or price increases for participating families and we will monitor this closely.
It is also time to properly examine the area of pay for professionals working in the Early Childcare sector. The state cannot wash its hands of its responsibilities here and this will be a key focus for us in advance of Budget 2019.
A strong, fair Social Protection package must be at the heart of a progressive budget.
Helping to mend the gaps in the social safety net and giving those who need it most a helping hand is the characteristic of a state that places fairness at its heart. Recognising the crucial role that older people have played through their decades of work in building up this country is right and proper. Fianna Fáil makes absolutely no apology for that.
We are committed to sustainable social protection policies within the parameters of the fiscal space. Increases in the welfare package must be founded on reliable income sources.
I believe that package we have helped to negotiate today will make a difference, however small, to those who need it the most. It is a clear example of a politics that is delivering for people not the sterile shouts in the wilderness of parties who have no sense of responsibility.
Ensuring fair budgets that emphasise services and delivers for working people has been our core ethos. The welfare package is a step in that direction that simply would not have happened without Fianna Fáil taking responsibility and fighting our corner in negotiations.
Much remains to be done to recover the ground lost in the recession and the regressive budgets that Fine Gael and Labour consistently pursued. We need to address the discrimination experienced by the 2012 changes to the eligibility criteria for the Contributory State Pension. 35,000 pensioners have had their payments cut. These cuts can be up to €50 a week. Many of these are parents who made the decision to take time out of the workforce to raise their families and now find themselves been penalised for doing so. This is unfair and we must outline a path to reversing it.
The members of An Garda Síochána are the backbone of the safety and security of our state.
They perform the most important duty of upholding the law and keeping citizens safe. The scandals and controversies that have beset the organisation over the past number of years do not reflect upon the ordinary members of the force who have served their communities well. Gardaí help people in their worst moments. They protect against criminality and resist any threats to our state.
That’s why boosting Garda numbers to 15,000 was a prominent part of the Fianna Fail manifesto, and a central plank of the Confidence and Supply negotiation, and today a further significant step has been taken towards that number.
Putting in place the resources to enable the force to achieve sufficient civilianisation freeing up Gardaí to go on the beat is also vital and sees significant progress today also.
The Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 sets out a clear plan to revitalise the organisation and equip it for the task of modern policing. CCTV supports and Gardaí on the streets will help families and communities to feel safe in their homes and towns.
The upcoming Commission on the future of policing report must also be factored into account in 2018 in setting out the development of the force. The disappointing failures in the force over the past number of years risks unravelling hard won public support. The state needs to ensure that this is not allowed to happen.
The ongoing recruitment in our Defence Forces is welcome but it is in danger of masking the serious morale and condition problems that are afflicting all arms of our forces.
Our Army, Air Corps & Naval forces are doing outstanding work on a daily basis nationally and internationally. Work that places them in personal danger on a daily basis.
However this work isn’t fully appreciated by government and we need more then tea and sympathy in order to address the challenges facing our forces.
There needs to be a pathway to address the capital investment required in facilities and equipment and there needs to be action to address the standing of the representative organisations in terms of the WRC, which will result in proper and meaningful engagement around their concerns.
The leaked Revenue Commissioners report illustrates the grave challenge of Brexit. It looms large like a dark cloud over this entire budget and our overall political debate. It also underlines the dangers of government complacency in confronting the task.
Fianna Fáil believes that Ireland must fight its corner as part of the EU. We must work to reform and improve the EU to ensure it delivers for ordinary citizens. The withdrawal of the UK will not define the future of the world’s most successful multilateral organisation. Beyond the broader diplomatic and political efforts to achieve a viable deal with the UK and a comprehensive EU response, there are a number of targeted measures the government should pursue in Budget 2018.
Budget 2018 must see the government get to grips with the potentially devastating impact of Brexit on Irish businesses across a wide range of sectors. Additional supports for key agencies such as Bord Bia, IDA and Enterprise Ireland will be vital to ensuring our agencies are fully enabled to access new markets and diversify away from our reliance on the UK.
Credit availability will help to reduce the impact of a credit crunch and sterling fluctuations. However we need to be much more ambitious in rising to the job ahead. Sector by sector plans headed by a Minister for Brexit and a diplomatic effort to secure special economic zone status for Northern Ireland must be the government focus.
The agricultural sector is acutely exposed to Brexit.
Farmers in areas of natural constraints are particularly vulnerable. For this reason, helping to ensure we have the human infrastructure to deliver the Food Wise 2025 objectives and for maintaining rural communities, the €25m boosting of ANC payments back towards their 2007 levels is a welcome measure that Fianna Fáil has worked very hard. The Minister needs to step up to the mark now and ensure that this extra investment is targeted at those who need it most.
We welcome the commitment for a second competitive fund to assist the agriculture community in tackling Brexit. However this won’t be enough. This is the sector which will be under the most pressure and it needs a laser like focus in order to address these pressures.
We also need – in advance of Budget 2019 – an accurate assessment of the impact of the withdrawal of the UK on CAP funding given its importance in terms of direct payments to farmers and supports for RDP programmes.
Communications Climate Change & the Environment
10 years ago a budget measure around diesel cars changed the buying behaviour of the motoring public.
Today’s tax changes may not have the same level of impact but they will raise consciousness about electric vehicles and begin a conversation that we need to have about replacing our fossil fuelled vehicles with a more sustainable mode of transport.
There are still serious concerns about the reliability of the infrastructure necessary to support such a change and these should be addressed in the forthcoming capital plan
Personal behaviour is one thing but it is only a small component. The national transport fleet needs to be radically transformed in to one led by sustainably fuelled vehicles. Our bus transport companies in particular need incentives to invest. If we can demonstrate that the bus fleet – in particular the long distance one – can be reliably and sustainably fuelled by non-fossil fuels then we will bring many more private motorists with us.
The allocation of additional monies for cycle paths and lanes is also welcome. However can I suggest Minister that cyclists be allowed to input into their design as well as engineers – people need to appreciate the realities of cycling in an urban area to fully understand how the design of these paths can be tweaked to ensure safety as well as a pleasant transport experience.
2018 must bring a fair and sustainable resolution to the difficulties facing our Community Post Office Network. This has been dragging on for far too long and it’s time to act Minister. There is huge potential within this network, if properly resourced. It is ironic on the day that a rise is announced in the minimum wage and in social protection payments that are often delivered through this network – that most of those who operate our Community Post offices work for much less than that. Talking time has finished Minister – time to act.
Brexit has had an unforeseen impact on Public Service Broadcasting as a consequence of a significant curtailment in advertising form UK based companies. This is impacting on RTE and on independent broadcasters. Ireland values its Public Service Broadcasting tradition both that of RTE and more recently that of our Local and Independent stations, but it requires investment to sustain it in these uncertain times.
This budget is a warm up act for the forthcoming capital plan which will be published before the end of the year.
The transport priorities within that plan must address the transport deficiencies within Dublin -including Metro North and DART Underground as well as the continuing regional deficiencies such as the N4 Sligo-Dublin, the N5/N26 Mayo-Dublin, the A5 Donegal-Dublin, the M20 Cork Limerick road.
A key requirement of our Confidence & Supply agreement is the upgrade of Regional & Local Roads in communities across the country. In this budget we have secured an additional €80m, bringing the total budget to €400m, which will allow for significant works in our local and regional road networks across the country.
We have also secured an LIS road package for 2018.
However the impact of these schemes is depleted by their inconsistent application across the country.
Rural & Community Affairs
A specific department for Rural & Community Affairs was a key commitment in Fianna Fáil’s 2016 manifesto and whilst the government were slow in doing it we welcomed the creation of this Department earlier this year.
This is the first budget for this new department and it’s still too early to measure the impact of its promised cross government approach on rural and community affairs.
One of the new Department’s key pillars is the Leader programme.
Blockages in the Leader programme which has suffered from dire underspend has to be a government priority over the coming year. Failing to completely utilise these badly needed funds is a lost opportunity for the country. It seems to me that there are too many cooks spoiling the Leader broth. There are many inconsistencies across the country in application processes and groups with good and ambitious ideas for their communities are being frightened away by layers of red tape and administration.
Cut the layers and open up the programme – otherwise the potential of Leader as a driver of rural and community development will be lost for ever.
Last year’s boost to the Clár programme must also be built upon to reach into rural Ireland and peripheral areas. Work should be done on re-instating initiatives under Clár that assist small and local businesses remain and expand in their local areas.
The relaunch of the Local Improvement Scheme is an important step in raising the quality of private roads across the Irish countryside. Fianna Fail has consistently called for an ambitious LIS programme – the 2017 allocation was completely oversubscribed and the 2018 will be also. However we need to ensure that this programme goes into roads and is not used to make up gaps in Local Authority budgets.
Is duais chultúrtha é ár dteanga náisiúnta. Tá acmhainni breise ag teastáil ón Strátéis 20 bliain chun é a chur I bhfeidhim go hiomlán.
Mar gheall ar an gcomhaontú Muinín agus Soláthar idir Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, tá an tiomantas tabhachtach sin glacaithe ag an Rialtais. Glacaimid go bhfuil roinnt beart san áireamh sa ráiteas buiséad inniu
Ní thuigim na gealuntais ón Rialtais ar an lámh amháin agus agus neamhábaltacht an Rialtais iad a sheachadadh ar an láimh eile. Ba chóir don Rialtais a bheith níos mó dearfach agus iad ag cur i bhfeidhim an Straitéis.
Is eagraíocht nuálaíoch é Udaras na Gaeltachta. Le blianta beaga anuas, bhí said an-tacúil don phobail Gaeltachta úsáid na teicneolaíochta a mhéadú mar gheall ar an gclár GTech. Ní mór don rialtas breis maoinithe, go hairithe infheistíocht chaipitil, a chur ar fáil d’Údarás na Gaeltachta chun an chlár sin a leathnú.
Arts & Culture
The success of the 1916 Commemoration Programme last year was fantastic but it has faded and we need once again to have an honest conversation about arts and culture funding and the sustainability of the sector in 21st century Ireland.
There is a need for a cross departmental approach to secure our artists – education in terms of ensuring the next generation values and understand the importance of our arts and culture and that we find and encourage the next generation of writers, actors, painters and performers; social protection measures in terms of income supports for low income artists and performers; BEI in terms of opening up the enterprise agencies to the arts community. All government departments – not just the parent department – have a role here. This can be the legacy initiative of the Creative Ireland programme.
The first “hits” of Brexit are immediately evident in our tourism sector. This year has seen a significant fall in our UK Visitor numbers and whilst this was made up for in 2017 by a substantial increase in US visitors – the global uncertainty will make this a very volatile market in 2018.
Our promotional organisations need to be Brexit ready but we also need to continue to invest in capital attractions. Who would have imagined 20 years ago that Spike Island Prison would be a world leading visitor attraction? 20 years ago the Titanic quarter was a section in a cinema complex. The Wild Atlantic Way was as wild as it is today but no one knew about it. They are all iconic attractions now because of imagination partnered with investment. Our island is not short of imagination – it just needs the investment.
This is the possibly the first budget ever that has been eclipsed by sport! I am realistic to know that there are more people talking about Ireland’s great win last night than about what we are saying here!
There is also an excitement and an anticipation about RWC 2023 and I congratulate all involved and wish the bid well.
It will require a capital investment if successful, and all parties in this house should re-affirm their commitment to it on this Budget Day.
Our grassroots sport capital and current investment cannot be sacrificed for RWC. The forthcoming sports capital grants, National Planning Framework and the Capital plan should be sports-proofed to ensure that sports participation and proper facilities remain at the heart of our island’s future.
Fine Gael’s record on capital is the same as housing, plenty of reports and no substance. Only last year did capital expenditure surpass the level in 2001. If we are to increase the capacity of our economy and rise to the challenge of climate change we need investment in vital areas. Delivery will be the central challenge.
Public Private Partnerships can provide a vital role in filling the gap that direct government investment cannot fill. Yet the Government still persists with its 10 per cent rule whereby no more than 10 per cent of capital expenditure in one year can be on PPPs.
We also have the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund that sits on over €6bn in its global portfolio. Deputy McGrath has already outlined some options in relation to this. NAMA too can be used in an innovative way to provide expertise and capital for Social and Affordable Housing.
When we begin to assess the key priorities for capital investment we begin to see a major disconnect between urban and rural areas. Rural areas are struggling in terms of connectivity. On the other hand our major cities are struggling to cope with the increase in populations. Dublin and other urban areas are racing away and much of the rest of the country is struggling to keep pace.
Fianna Fáil believes that it should not be a one or the other argument when it comes to prioritising urban over rural areas or vice versa.
Fianna Fáil believes that there needs to be National Infrastructure Commission that can look at this and adequately assess what the priorities are. This is particularly important in equipping the country to cope with the fundamental challenge of climate change.
In healthcare we need more investment in acute beds and stepdown facilities.
I have previously mentioned the key transport priorities.
In the context of Brexit, the Rosslare Europort and our regional airports have a unique role to play in making us Brexit ready.
Renegotiation with the new Northern Ireland Executive when it is set up, should take place in relation to the funding of the A5 Donegal Road and the Narrow Water Bridge on the Louth/Down border.
Other areas needing urgent investment include flood defence, childcare and the decarbonisation of our economy.
A Ceann Comhairle, there are as many commentators on politics as there were on the game last night.
To some of them politics seems to be a game. Some revel in creating drama where none exists – indeed there are members of the government who see this as their main job. Others throw out idle speculation without a thought as to how that may impact on actual people
Politics is not a game.
Politics is about people.
All of us who are honoured to serve in this Oireachtas are here to serve the people and our country and hopefully improve their lives and make this country stronger and a better place to live.
It sounds twee but it is the truth.
Fianna Fáil believes in acting on that aim not just talking about it. This is the second budget produced under Confidence & Supply. It is by no means perfect but it is a lot stronger, it is a lot fairer and it is a lot more ambitious for Ireland then it would have been without Fianna Fáil’s input.