Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that there remains “a few little things to tidy up” before Budget 2017 is announced later today.
The Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure will reveal the full details of the Budget in the Dáil this afternoon.
Key features will include a helping hand for first time buyers, higher welfare and pension payments and tax cuts.
But Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that while some negotiations are still to be finalised this morning, most of the Budget is agreed. Speaking outside Government buildings this morning he said:
“Just a few little things to tidy up, but obviously the two ministers will present the Budget at one o’clock, and it’s in accordance with the parameters set out and the fiscal constraints, the Programme for Government, and the agreement that we have with Fianna Fáil as the main Opposition party.
“So we’ve concluded the vast majority of discussions, and given the fact that we face many challenges ahead, including the consequences of the Brexit decision, this is a Budget that we have framed to have measures of Brexit-proofing, but also to create insofar as we can, a fairer Ireland.”
It would appear that part of this “fairer Ireland” is the delay of a paltry increase of €5 a week to pensioners until next March.
The Government and Fianna Fail have been at loggerheads about when this derisory sum should be increased in the state pension.
Fine Gael believes the increase can’t be paid until next summer even though it is to be included in this Budget, whereas Fianna Fail want it paid from next January.
Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran has said this morning that there remains some final Budget negotiations to be done with Fine Gael.
“It’s a great package, I believe, that we got.
“So we’re very, very happy this morning, particularly with the prescription charges, it’s absolutely enormous.
“It was late into the night, there’s still a small bit of negotiation to be done, but we’ll get that over now.
“But we’re happy, we’re quite happy [with what] the Independent Alliance, I believe, has secured.
“I suppose a lot of people were saying that this minority isn’t working, now we can prove it is working, and the influence the Independent Alliance has.”
Michael Noonan will deliver his Budget speech in the Dáil at lunchtime, before Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe outlines how the minority Government will spend its limited resources.