Sinn Féin’s policies would cost taxpayers an additional €800m if it ever was elected to government, Finance Minster Michael Noonan told the Dáil.
In a strong rebuttal to Donegal Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn, Minister Noonan said if Sinn Féin wants to be a serious force in the Parliament, it should “at least get background people who understand economics and who can add”.
Sinn Féin states that it has another “red-line issue”, he said. First it was to abolish property tax and now it is to abolish water charges.
“These are red-line issues but nobody is rushing to join Sinn Féin in Government,” he said.
“Putting down a red line issue is like an auld fellow walking up and down the boundaries of the ballroom of romance saying he will not dance with any of those women over there.
“Nobody wants to dance with him. Red lines? Is Deputy Mac Lochlainn joking me? If I could comment on Sinn Féin’s economic position, it wants to abolish water charges and property tax.
“Where will it get the €800 million to bring it to the starting point, if it was ever unfortunate enough to be in government? Who will Sinn Féin nail?”
Minister Noonan said it is difficult enough to construct budgets, but when one begins by moving back €800 million before one starts, then income tax will get “a desperate belt”, as will universal social charge and personal incomes.
“Now that the economy is growing, Sinn Féin needs a new model because what it has stated up to now is absolute economic nonsense,” he added.
“To summarise the fully costed three budget submissions Sinn Féin has made to me over the past three and a half years, it decided that 85% of the correction in the finances of the country should be made by way of tax increases and the total proposal of its tax increases was more than €7 billion.
“If Sinn Féin thinks the country can take an extra burden of €7 billion in taxation, whether it is the well off, those on middle incomes or the poor who must pay it, is absolute nonsense.”
Collins concerned for asylum seekers in Knockalisheen and Mount Trenchard
Concern about the current direct provision system for asylum seekers, including those at Knockalisheen, was expressed in the Dail by Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesman Niall Collins.
“Genuine issues have been raised about that system, however, particularly humanitarian issues and the issue of catering and providing for children,” he said.
“There are two reception centres in Limerick at Mount Trenchard, which is near Foynes in my constituency, and Knockalisheen, which is in the city itself.
“These centres are very different, mainly because a large number of children are living at the one in Knockalisheen whereas this is not the case at Mount Trenchard.
“The position with regard to children has given rise to concern, particularly as many of them hold Irish passports.
“A large number of them were born in this country to parents who entered the jurisdiction in order to seek asylum.
“This aspect of the issue must be kept centre stage. Why does it take up to three years for 46% of asylum seekers’ cases to be processed? Why have 14% of asylum seekers been in the system for more than seven years?”
In reply, Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the waiting times relating to that process must be reduced and brought into line with those which obtain in every other EU member state.
Tribute made to Limerick orthodontic surgeon by Deputy O’Donovan
Fine Gael deputy Patrick O’Donovan paid tribute to the Limerick orthodontic surgeon Dr Ted McNamara, who over a number of years has pioneered the need for reform of this sector and to bring practice in Ireland into line with what happens elsewhere around the world, which is that orthodontists work with orthodontic therapists to carry out the work that is needed for young people in particular.
Speaking on a new Health Bill, Deputy O’Donovan said this was with a view to doing two things, namely, saving the State money and, more important, seeing children at a much earlier stage and thereby reducing the waiting lists.