Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has described an opinion piece by three Fine Gael TDs calling for tax cuts for middle income families as “kite flying”, but their comments were reasonable.
Mr McGuinness told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that such comments were part of the pre-Budget process that every political party entered into every year.
“Every year you have a case being thrown in relation to what one party wants and what another party wants. And I think now we’re into the third year of this coalition, so tensions are far greater than what they would be for the last two years. But what is being asked for, I think, is reasonable.
“It’s an indication of where the party stands. I don’t dispute that. I think that last night at our parliamentary party meeting, we asked for an increase in the old age pension of between €15 and €20.
“People spoke about the need for grants to ensure that people can be looked after safely in their own homes through their county councils and therefore supports for business. So it’s each party setting out its style and trying to be different than the other.”
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When asked about comments by former Fine Gael Minister Michael Creed that Fianna Fáil was the party responsible for the financial crash, Mr McGuinness said there was no doubt that Fianna Fáil had been the party in Government during the crash, but that there had been international factors as well.
Junior Ministers and the Taoiseach were entitled to put forward their views, that was all part of the public debate around the budget.
“My hope would be that it’s a real debate, that we’re actually going to focus on giving this money to where they’re talking about to all of those pensioners, to those that are working, tax breaks for employers and so on. I wouldn’t like to think that it is a fake debate. I hope there is substance to it.”
Mr McGuinness added that it was “about time that Fianna Fáil got its backbone” in order to demand “some of the things that would satisfy the people that we represent.”