Interesting to read that Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan is challenging backbenchers and Opposition TDs to “put up or shut up” when he delivers a three-year plan to cut welfare and increase taxes in advance of the Budget.
He is expected to abandon pledges made by the Taoiseach and Tanaiste, who just two months ago promised there would be no income tax hikes or cuts in welfare payments. His stance marks a U-turn from Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore’s earlier promises on taxation and welfare cuts – made at a press conference in June – on the Government’s 100th day in office. Mr Noonan wants to publish a programme of swingeing cuts alongside new charges and tax increases in October.
It will be interesting to see just how “swingeing” these cuts will really be. The evidence is that despite the rhetoric, the Irish public sector manages to get on quite well despite the inflammatory language from Leinster House. Naturally there should be severe cuts but how can we take an Irish Government seriously on the issue of financial austerity when it has hiked the minimum wage back up to one of the highest in Europe? Smoke and mirrors will not suffice and I am less than impressed with the new Government which strikes me as not much better than the previous one.