“At the outset, I would like to address this budget for what it is, and that is the Green Party’s budget and definitely the biggest case of the tail wagging the dog we have seen since the foundation of the state.”
Those were the words of Independent TD, Michael Healy-Rae, as he reacted to Budget 2021 last night (Tuesday, October 13th).
The Kerry-based representative believes the budget is a “direct attack” on rural Ireland.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have obviously sold their souls completely for power because not only are we seeing this budget brought before us, but it is terribly important for people to realise that the Minister for Finance, in his press briefing after this budget speech, outlined that the Finance Bill will legislate for a carbon tax hike of €7.50 per annum until 2029 and €6.50 in 2030.”
“Which will, in effect, mean he and this Government are marrying future politicians and future Governments to this tax, whether they like it or not.”
€9.5 billion of extra taxes
He said the people of Ireland have to understand that it is going to equate to €9.5 billion of extra taxes being “burdened” upon them over the next decade.
“I am not a climate change denier. I am interested in protecting the environment and the climate. I want to ensure the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the future will have a world to live in, and I want to protect every species in that world, including the human species.”
72 phone calls
The Kerry-based TD revealed he kept an account of seventy-two telephone calls he received yesterday evening “telling me what was wrong with the budget”. “They were not wrong and the people who are behind them at home were not wrong.”
“If you have a person in Kerry today who is very proud of the motor car they own, and whether it is five or ten-years-old, or whether the jeep they own is 10, 15 or 20-years-old, but it is theirs.”
“They are being told they will be penalised from a tax point of view from tonight due to the excise that will be put on petrol.”
“They are being hit all the time. Why so? What are they guilty of? They are guilty in that they might not have the wherewithal, or they might have other priorities, or their own car or jeep might be doing fine.”
Carpooling in rural Ireland
“The Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, thinks they should be driving an electric vehicle. Actually, he does not even think that. I will quote him and remind him again and, until I die, I will keep reminding him of what he said one day.”
He suggested that in villages in rural areas, the people should have no cars and what they should actually do is to carpool, Healy said angrily.
“He put a figure on it and said that if there were five or ten cars parked in the local village, everybody could come down and use those cars.”
“Would there not be some tearing for the cars in the morning when people are trying to go to work? I mean for God’s sake, that will tell us the mentality.”
Rural Ireland will be ‘hardest hit’
“Rural Ireland has again been left behind in this budget,” said Healy-Rae as he asked where is funding in this budget for rural public transport and where is the investment in working from home in rural areas.
“Where in this Budget has it tackled issues, for instance, conditions in our meat factories? Why was the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, not reinstated in this budget?”
He stressed that rural Ireland will be “hardest hit” under this budget. “We will pay the highest price for it.”
“At a time when we can borrow billions, I am very disappointed that the priorities are all wrong.”
“We are tying ourselves up in knots with additional taxes and charges that did not exist in the past and which will be introduced at midnight after this budget is inevitably voted through,” he added.