Budget shows Government ‘misunderstands the anger and outrage of decent people’, says Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty

The party's finance spokesperson joins the Inside Politics podcast panel

Listen | 43:39

The Government has completely ignored the housing crisis in this year’s budget, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty tells The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast today. Speaking with presenter Hugh Linehan, Political Editor Pat Leahy and Political Correspondent Jennifer Bray, the Donegal TD criticises the absence of additional capital or improved targets for new housing in 2024.

“At a time when we have billions of euro surplus, I think that’s genuinely unforgivable when we think about nearly 4, 000 people in emergency accommodation today,” he says. “And all of the indicators are going wrong, like the numbers of people in homelessness increase month after month, house prices continue to rise, rents are are squeezing so many families.”

If there is to be a landmine in Budget 2024, Leahy tells the podcast, it could be in the allocation to the Department of Health. “[Health Minister] Stephen Donnelly did not look like a happy man in the chamber. yesterday,” he notes.

Bray agrees that there was significant tension with Donnelly’s department in the run-up to the budget. “There is huge anger about the overruns, and there’s also this feeling from people in the Department of Health that they were being unfairly blamed,” she says. “They would say that they made it clear last year what extra funding they would need this year when you factor in inflation and Covid.”

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Asked about the overall impact of the package of tax measures and cost-of-living supports in the budget, Doherty says the Government “misunderstands” the public. “I think everybody who got an extra fiver or tenner is going to really welcome that. But the government misunderstand the anger and outrage that decent people have when they see what’s happening in our hospitals with children with scoliosis or people in emergency accommodation or grandmothers looking at their grandchildren leaving for Australia.”