The Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien has said tensions between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over the budgetary process have been “overplayed”.
Fine Gael ministers of state Martin Heydon, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill and Peter Burke called for a tax cut of €1,000 for full-time workers earning €52,000 in an article published last Monday.
This was seen to cause tension with their coalition partners, as the upcoming budget will be from Fianna Fáil finance minister Michael McGrath.
Mr O’Brien, himself a Fianna Fáil minister, said he had the “honour” of working at Cabinet with colleagues from Fine Gael and the Green Party.
“This government has worked very well together, very difficult times coming through the pandemic, cost-of-living crisis, war in Ukraine, very difficult decisions that have had to be made, and it’s been a very cohesive government and I expect that to continue.
“The events of the last week, I think, have been somewhat overplayed.”
He said the best place to put a budget together is at Cabinet taking in the views of all three parties.
“The programme for government actually drives what we’re doing.
“That was an agreed programme for government by all three parties and that underpins what we will do in this forthcoming budget.
“Thankfully, we’re in a position where we do have a good economy, and that economy should serve our people as well. And we will make sure three parties in government that we put together a progressive budget again, that supports jobs, sports people, supports housing, and tackles the main issues that we have in our country right now.”
Earlier, his party colleague and minister of state Jack Chambers said he was surprised by a public call from three junior ministerial colleagues for tax cuts for middle-income full-time workers.
“I have to say I was surprised by the article, I’m not sure who the people who penned it are trying to convince within government because in the programme for government we’ve agreed to tax reductions,” the Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West told RTE.
He rejected claims from Sinn Fein that the reported coalition tensions caused by opinion piece last week represented a “fake fight”.
“We’ve also in the Fianna Fail manifesto, we were committed to reducing tax for middle income earners,” Mr Chambers said.
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“But as part of the budgetary policy, it’s not as simplistic as throwing out figures five months out from a Budget. It’s a sophisticated process on getting the balance right.
“And Minister McGrath will coordinate that across government. I’m confident he will be trying to strike the balance from a Fianna Fail perspective.”
Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the junior minister’s actions and disputed the idea that the publication of the piece was a tactic to associate tax cuts with his party in the eyes of voters.