The Minister of State, Deputy D’Arcy, might remember that a few weeks ago I raised the issue of tax expenditures with the Taoiseach on Leaders’ Questions. I put to the Taoiseach that all 11 or 12 budgets introduced by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael during the decade or more of austerity were accompanied by Finance Bills which provided for continually massive tax expenditures. I refer to briefing paper 13 of 2018 by our diligent and excellent Parliamentary Budget Office, which estimated basic tax expenditure costs at over €5 billion in 2016, rising from €4.7 billion in 2014. Of course, the Department of Finance only began reporting on these vast expenditures in 2014. Members received the Department’s report on the 2017 expenditures on the day after the budget was introduced as opposed to with the rest of the documents relating to the budget.
On Monday morning I held my usual Darndale information clinic and Tuesday saw representatives from my office take part in the street canvass around St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton St for Wednesday’s #RaiseTheRoof rally. The lunchtime rally on Wednesday brought over 12,000 people to the streets of Dublin to call on the Government to declare a Housing Emergency and take action on our worsening crisis. The rally was attended by people of all ages, many unions were represented and all Opposition parties and Independents supported the cross-party motion in the Dáil later that same day.
Today, Deputy Broughan handed in his pre-budget submission to the Department of Finance. In it he calls for increase in Social Protection payments, paying particular attention to measures that would assist in helping lone parents and children out of poverty; for an additional €1.25bn investment in Housing and significant investment in the areas of Health and Disability of €800m plus. Deputy Broughan also call for a clampdown on tax expenditures for the super-rich and for the postponement of the Rainy Day Fund, releasing an extra €500m for necessary personnel and infrastructure.
I spent much of this week completing my submission on BusConnects. I received strong feedback from constituents, especially in meetings in Artane and Sutton that they are opposed to interchanges and loss of direct routes to the City Centre and I conveyed that in my own submission sent to the National Transport Authority (NTA) this morning.
I am grateful for the brief opportunity to comment on the summer economic statement. Last weekend there were reports that Fine Gael was trying out various general election slogans, such as Let Leo Lead On, based on the Seán Lemass slogan of the 1960s, but listening to the bluster and barefaced attempts this morning by the Taoiseach to rewrite history in response to Deputy Pearse Doherty’s question on this document, a more appropriate slogan might be You Just Can’t Believe Leo, or something more illiterate in that regard. The Taoiseach, of course, ignored his own vote for the blanket bank guarantee which wrecked our State finances and provided continuous support for savage cuts and austerity measures alongside Fianna Fáil since 2008. Shamefully, this included his own disastrous stint in the Department of Health.